VETARAN McENROE HUMBLES MURRAY
By John Roberts at Wembley
4th October 2004.
John McEnroe, to his credit, showed Andrew Murray
no mercy, bamboozling the 17-year-old British junior 6-1 after
only 24 minutes when Superset Tennis came to Wembley Arena yesterday.
Those, including McEnroe, who suggested that
Murray was ready to play in the recent Davis Cup tie in Austria
on the strength of his success in winning the US Open junior title,
were wrong. If McEnroe, at 45, was capable of outclassing Murray
in a one-set gimmick event, you dread to think what the tour-hardened,
27-year-old Stefan Koubek would have done to the teenager's confidence
McEnroe, now a stalwart of the senior tour, had
insisted he was still a match for anybody over one set, and Murray's
lack of experience was exposed by the New Yorker's exquisite serve
and volleying and ability to put his opponent under pressure when
receiving serve. Murray had the audacity to ask for an action
replay of McEnroe's first serve of the contest, an ace. The "Hawkeye"
monitoring system showed the serve was good. McEnroe then insisted
on a replay of the second point, after his shot was called long.
This time his shot was shown to have landed long. "That's
inaccurate!" McEnroe said, smiling at the 8,000 sell-out
After that, he got down to the business of advancing
to the semi-finals, with an eye on the £250,000 winner-takes-all
prize. Murray, deputising for the injured Tim Henman, won his
solitary game to love when serving to stay in the match 5-0 down.
He then created a break point at 30-40 but McEnroe saved it with
McEnroe told Murray he had a great future, and
Murray replied that it had been an honour to be on the same court.
The afternoon opened with the 31-year-old Greg Rusedski advancing
to the semi-finals after defeating the 36-year-old Boris Becker,
11-10, winning the superset tie-break, 7-1. Becker held four match
points at 6-5, only to lob a shot into the rigging for the lights
on the first opportunity. Rusedski served away the second match
point and saved the third with a forehand drive.
Goran Ivanisevic, 33, made a flying visit, losing
to Tommy Robredo, of Spain, 11 years his junior, 6-4 - finishing
with two double-faults - and Mario Ancic, Ivanisevic's Croatian
compatriot, who defeated Tim Henman at Wimbledon, beat the American
Robby Ginepri, 6-3.
Rusedski invited his friend Paul McKenna, the
hypnotist, to sit beside him as his coach for the day. Perhaps
McKenna convinced the British No 2 that he was Roger Federer.
Or maybe he put the "hex" on Becker in the tie-break.
"Yes," Rusedski smiled, "I think Paul stared in
his eyes." McKenna apparently helps Rusedski rehabilitate
after injuries by relaxing him.
The consensus was that there is a place in the
sport for the concept of a one set per match tournament spiced
with rock music. The competitors were also in favour of players
being allowed to call for Hawkeye replays in matches on the ATP
Tour. Rusedski, asked if Hawkeye would work at Wimbledon, said:
"I think it would be excellent. It's very quick, and there's
no argument. I'd certainly be up for using it on the main tour."
Ivanisevic agreed. "Sometimes the players
make mistakes, but the umpires make them, too. It's tough to see
where the ball lands sometimes. Hawkeye doesn't take too much
time. It takes 10 seconds." Ivanisevic did, however, have
one reservation about the one-set format: "It should be a
normal set, with a tie-break at six-all, not at 10-all. That's
too many games."