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Evening Standard


By Chris Jones, Evening Standard
29th September 2004


John McEnroe, who wants the chance to help Britain's Andrew Murray break into the tennis big time, will get first hand experience of the 17-year-old's talent at the Superset Tennis tournament at Wembley Arena on Sunday.

McEnroe was due to face British No1 Tim Henman, but a nagging back injury has forced the world No4 to drop out - allowing the US Open Boys champion Murray to continue his remarkable tennis rollercoaster ride by facing one of the all-time greats in a one-day, single-set tournament that features a first prize of £250,000.

While McEnroe won £7.3million during his career, Murray's career has so far netted him just £7,317. McEnroe watched Murray emerge as the best junior player in the world at the US Open tournament earlier this month and is eager to get to grips with the Scottish youngster's game on court.

McEnroe said: "I have heard about Andrew Murray for a couple of years and got to see him play in the last couple of months. He has a lot of talent. Now I have the chance to play against him and see what he's got at first hand."

The American tennis superstar, still one of the biggest names in the sport, has been disappointed at the lack of contact with the Lawn Tennis Association, who have previously used the former Wimbledon champion to raise the profile of tennis in this country. Until Henman dropped out, McEnroe was not scheduled to link up with Murray.

Now he will be able to sit down and talk to Murray about what the future holds for the teenager. McEnroe would welcome a call from the LTA asking him over to Britain to work with Murray and the other young players coming through the British system. But he is not expecting one.

He said: "To be quite honest I would like to do more, but I have heard nothing and that's been disappointing. So far it's been a case of being a figurehead. However, I am open to discussions. "Because of my commitments - I play a seniors event later in the week - it's not possible while I am here for Superset.

"It needs to be done more than a couple a days before an event. It's not going to happen but, potentially, this would have been a good time, particularly after Andrew's success at the US Open.

"There has to be more communicationand effort. I know that David Felgatehas got his things in place now and things are going in the right direction. Hopefully, I can work with these promising kids." McEnroe, whose career brought him seven Grand Slam titles, is still a keen competitor on the seniors tour and believes that at 45 years old he can still be a handful over one set against the present stars. "I can give anyone on the men's tour a run for his money for a set or two and it's going to be interesting to see how I perform against Andrew.

"I am not in condition to play the best of five with them and if I get a bit lucky then the set could be over in a heartbeat. "I have a tough enough time on the seniors tour with Boris Becker and now Jim Courier and Richard Krajiceck to deal with and so trying to take on the current guys is not something I would aim to do - except using this format.

"However, Goran Ivanisevic hasn't played much tennis and Greg Rusedski has that hand injury, so who knows? "There is no reason why something cannot happen in one set."

Superset tennis uses television technology to allow players to contest close line calls, gives players the chance to talk to a coach at court-side during change overs and features a serving contest to see who serves first. It is all designed to try and take the game to a new level of accessibility and popularity.

That is why McEnroe, Rusedski, Becker, Robby Ginepri, Tommy Robredo, Mario Ancic, Ivanisevic and Murray are taking part at Wembley. The first session features all eight players in four head-to-head sets. After a successful pilot in the US last year, Superset organisers believe they have found a new way of taking the game forward. "In today's society we need an entertainment-rich, innovative, technologically enhanced product to satisfy our desires."

"Superset will attract a new audience of younger people with busy lives looking for a one hit, sudden death showdown of top international tennis. "Research shows tennis needs a new approach, so don't be surprised if by 2005 we have a Superset World Series. Where else can tennis fans see so many top players in a single day?"

The Superset draw:
Match 1: Greg Rusedski v Boris Becker
Match 2: Goran Ivanisevic v Tommy Robredo
Match 3: Robby Ginepri v Mario Ancic
Match 4: John McEnroe v Andrew Murray

* The winner of match 1 plays the winner of match 2, the match 3 winner plays the winner of match 4.

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