| Stich: Steps down as Davis Cup captain
Berlin: Michael Stich stepped down as captain of Germany’s Davis Cup team on Monday after his plan to recall Boris Becker prompted a threatened player walk-out.
The former Wimbledon champion, aged 34, who took over from Carl-Uwe Steeb in October last year, is to give a news conference later in the day, the German Tennis Federation (DTB) said.
World number two Tommy Haas and fellow Davis Cup player Rainer Schuettler had both threatened to pull out if Becker, who retired from competitive tennis three years ago, was selected for the tie against Venezuela from September 20 to 22 in Karlsruhe.
Haas said Germany should concentrate on building a young team and including Becker, a former Davis Cup team manager, would send the wrong signal.
DTB president Georg von Waldenfels said he was also against the idea of picking Becker, who inspired Germany to two of their three Davis Cup triumphs.
“I have carried out this duty with pride for a year but, unfortunately, I did not receive a great deal of support either from the players or from the German Tennis Federation,” Stich, 33, said in a statement sent to German sports news agency SID.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Becker offered to play doubles against Venezuela after beating old rival Stich in an exhibition match last month.
Stich, who was aware that tickets for the Karlsruhe fixture were selling slowly and feared the television ratings might be low, thought selecting Becker would revive interest for the tie.
But it became obvious that he would have to shelve his plan after both Haas and Schuettler said they might withdraw if Becker was in the team.
Becker, who has had to go through a costly divorce, a settlement to a pregnant lover and a battle with tax authorities since he retired after playing Wimbledon for the last time in 1999, helped Germany win the Davis Cup in 1988 and 1989. He was not in the team when they won the competition for the third and last time in 1993, but Stich was.
Becker returned to the Davis Cup from 1997, working with Steeb as both team manager and doubles player, before internal squabbling prompted him to leave the team in December 1999.
Steeb continued with the job until he stepped down in September last year after coming under fire for the team’s shock 4-1 quarter final defeat to a weak Dutch side a few months earlier.
The DTB first asked Becker to take over but he declined and Stich was appointed instead.
Stich, who beat Becker in the 1991 Wimbledon final and had a difficult relationship with him when the two battled it out on the circuit, was due to name his team for the Karlsruhe tie later on Monday.