Tennis: Becker and McEnroe to double up: Stich rebuffs compatriot

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AFTER showing encouraging form during the last two weeks of his comeback, Boris Becker hopes to sharpen his game further by playing doubles with John McEnroe when the American makes a rare reappearance to compete in this week's tournament in Rotterdam.

A friendship has developed between Becker and McEnroe in recent years, the New Yorker offering advice on coaching before the German appointed Nick Bollettieri to supervise his training last December.

McEnroe, who retired as a full-time player after the Grand Slam Cup in Munich at the end of 1992, will do well to survive beyond the opening round of the singles in Rotterdam. He has been drawn against the third seed, Magnus Gustafsson.

It was at Wimbledon two years ago that McEnroe achieved his last triumph, winning the doubles title in partnership with Becker's German rival, Michael Stich.

After Becker defeated Stich in the quarter-finals of the Eurocard Open here last Friday, he suggested to his compatriot that they revive their doubles partnership, which won the Olympic gold medal for Germany at the Barcelona Games.

Becker's idea was to team up for the tour event in Tokyo in April, but Stich informed him that he did not intend to enter the doubles there. Niki Pilic, who coaches Stich and is also the captain of the German Davis Cup team, is monitoring developments with interest.

Stefan Edberg, who won the dollars 355,000 ( pounds 240,000) first prize by defeating Goran Ivanisevic in the Stuttgart final on Sunday, left for Arizona yesterday to play in Scottsdale, where Andre Agassi is due to return to the tour this week after recovering from wrist surgery.