The 'Last Time' With Benjamin Becker
What did Becker have to do after he sent Agassi into retirement?
Benjamin Becker shares the last time...
I missed a flight?
Well, I'm German so I actually value punctuality, but I missed one flight. I remember, (it) was many, many years ago, coming to Houston (late) because of a traffic jam in Miami. I missed the flight by maybe two minutes, and they wouldn't let me on but I got lucky because I knew a guy that I met there by accident at the airport who worked for the airline, and he got me on the next plane. So it worked out OK.
I lost something important?
Last time I lost something important was when my wallet got stolen in Germany. For me, traveling all over the world and being in many places where you maybe have to be careful of it, my wallet got stolen at a tennis club in Germany, where I had left for 10 seconds and had my wallet in my bag and somebody stole it out of my bag... I left my bag, I actually just went to the restroom. I heard somebody come in but I didn't think about it. And really, it was just 15 seconds, 20 seconds. I came out and the bag was gone and I ran outside and I didn't see anybody, so that was it... They must have searched it real quick and just found the right spot.
I paid money to rent a tennis court or buy tennis balls?
Balls, I just bought a few weeks ago in Dallas, just to get some balls to prepare for [Houston]. And court, I'm lucky that I'm able to play in Dallas at a Lifetime Club. I'm able to practise there, and they help me out nicely. They are very nice people. But I rented some courts in Florida... I went to a public park and everybody had to pay so you pay three bucks an hour. So usually I paid six bucks for two hours and then I practised there... It was when I still lived in Florida and I moved two years ago. I lived there for five years and I usually played at that park because it was five minutes from my house... hard courts... Fort Lauderdale. It was George English Park... Everybody had to pay and I didn't mind paying... Six bucks, not bad, and if I wanted to play three hours they let me play an hour longer... I could play as long as I wanted, unless somebody else came in. I actually had to wait for the court a few times because the courts were full, so I waited an hour or two and then I got my court.
Being famous helped me?
I don't know, I'm not that famous. I have to think about that one. I remember after I beat (Andre) Agassi I went to, which also was a long time ago, I went to a New York restaurant, and I had my former college coach, some college friends, my coach at the time, my girlfriend at the time... and obviously I had to pay for dinner. It was after I lost to (Andy) Roddick so we all went out to dinner, and I said "Hey, OK, I cover the dinner, no problem, guys. I invite you, you guys came to New York to support me." And then when I paid, I gave them my credit card, the guy came back and apologised and said, "I didn't know it's you, you beat Agassi a few days before, obviously you don't have to pay." So until today those guys still say I owe them a dinner, which I say, "No, I paid, just a different way!"
I strung a tennis racquet?
I've only strung a tennis racquet once in my life to test it and that was maybe 10 years ago, and I gave up. So I've never actually done it in my life... I mean I did do it once but I didn't play with the racquet. It was way too loose and it was just to test it.
I cooked for myself and others?
I sometimes cook breakfast. So I cook for my kids sometimes. I do an omelette in the morning, if you consider that cooking. I did some pancakes once. The real cooking, which is also maybe not gourmet cooking, but in college (Baylor University) I always cooked for myself... You didn't want to go out to eat, you tried to save money, obviously. So we never really did anything outside then, just cooking at home and eating there. We went with the team somewhere we went out to dinner... Usually (at college) I always cooked for myself every day, lunch and dinner. But nothing special, usually pasta, chicken, some vegetables, so nothing fancy, also some pancakes. My grandmother gave me the recipe, and that's pretty much it... Every now and then I do pancakes or omelettes in the morning for my kids and my wife just to do something extra.
I met a childhood idol?
One of my childhood idols was Boris Becker (no relation), and I met him in 2007, during Davis Cup, my first Davis Cup tie... On Saturday after the doubles he walked into the locker room and it was just like you didn't breathe for a minute... That was a big moment for me, to actually meet somebody you looked up to most of your life, all of your life... He was the reason why I started to play tennis... Coming to college, I followed (fellow German and Dallas Maverick) Dirk Nowitzki very closely. I went to the games every semester whenever I could. I met him also a few years back, and it was also a good thing for me.
I shared a hotel room with another player?
I hadn't done it in a long time but in Miami I shared a hotel room with (compatriot Philipp) Petzschner... Before that I don't think I shared a room with somebody for a long, long time... We went to Dallas together and then he didn't book a hotel at the time. I said I have a hotel room, and I sai, "Hey, why don't we share the hotel room. His doubles partner was staying in private housing. We're good friends... We don't spend that much time in the hotel but we go practice, we come back, we go to dinner, we come back. We like to watch basketball, and there was a lot of basketball on TV. So we just shared a room. It was good fun, actually.
I asked someone famous for an autograph or selfie?
Selfie? I don't think I've done a selfie. But I just took a picture with Dirk Nowitzki a few weeks back in Memphis. Autograph... the one person that I asked for an autograph and he gave it to me was Wayne Gretzky. I got to stay at his house for four or five days during a college tournament in... 2004. He actually signed a poster... and he gave me a DVD, the heights of his career... It was a great experience... It was a college tournament, and they also offered private housing. Our assistant coach knew his private coach... It was pretty incredible to have five days with him. See him in the morning, him having a coffee, we eating the Wheaties while he's on the box of the Wheaties! It was kind of surreal but unbelievable guy, so nice. He came to watch us practise, warm up for the matches, everything. Really humble. Very, very nice guy and family, five kids. Very, very fun.