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July 22, 2010

John McEnroe

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome John McEnroe. Goes without saying, 1999 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, winner of 76 singles titles and 70 doubles titles on tour, including seven Grand Slam singles titles, 10 Grand Slam doubles titles. Still going strong at age 51.
John, if you want to open up with general comments.
JOHN McENROE: Yeah, we're in an exciting position. This is why I like to play, because you get to be part of a team. Got a great group of guys that I play with, and girls.
It's a crapshoot. It's been up and down - more down for me personally. I'm a little bit disappointed. Hopefully tonight I can have some good matches. But I'm excited about hopefully making a run, being part of a team that wins it finally. We usually end up getting in the playoffs and not winning the whole thing.
THE MODERATOR: Will you be playing all three sets tonight?
JOHN McENROE: Probably not, but we'll see what happens.

Q. As a veteran of World TeamTennis, what kind of practice goes into the season? Do you find you have to do more as you grow older?
JOHN McENROE: The answer would be yes. As you grow older, I have to do more. But I don't have that luxury because I'm doing Wimbledon, I'm doing a lot of commentary. It's a bit of a crapshoot for me. It's not the ideal preparation.
But I do enjoy doing the event. I don't get out there as easily and as often as I like. This year I happened to play a match the week after with Goran Ivanisevic, who is a friend of mine, we did a charity match in Dubrovnik. That threw the preparation off. It was a great vacation, but however it made it a bit more of not to know what to expect.
Last year I came in, I felt like I was more consistent, been playing more. But you never know. This thing goes so fast, guys can come out swinging for the fences. It can go either way. It's difficult to say.

Q. Why keep playing World TeamTennis?
JOHN McENROE: Basically Billie Jean in a nutshell. She loves it so much. I have a lot of respect for her. She really lives and breathes this. I do believe the concept should be a part of the sport in some way, shape or form. It would be great if it ever had sort of its own time, there would be a lot more of the top players. I think it would be something people would gravitate towards.
In the meantime, trying to get that, they get sort of old guys like myself or some people step in for a few matches, some of the top players, if they can, and try to get it where they can position themselves. I don't know what's in the long-term plans. I think she's done arguably more for tennis than any other single person in history.
When she is nice enough to say they still want me to do it, it's a no-brainer for me to try to play a few. This is my fifth out of 14. That's going to be pushing the limit for me. It's not easy, the traveling. It's not easy. We got to go back tomorrow. I'm going to be playing the East Coast. That's crazy for me to even think about that at this age. They're better off not having me, to be quite honest.
That's a hard thing. That's not really fair for them. I think we're the best team in the east, in my opinion. But that's going to make it tough to win tomorrow, even at home.

Q. Are you going to take part in the playoffs?
JOHN McENROE: The playoffs are tomorrow. This is our last match tonight. The playoffs are tomorrow. That's the part that I don't understand why we would schedule tomorrow. I hope to be a part of the match in the final. But that's Sunday, though. That gives me a couple days. So that would be my hope.
These guys have to pull it out. That's not going to be easy. They're young. They're 20 somethings, but nonetheless so are the guys that they're playing. It's going to be difficult to win tomorrow.
But I think we're the best team.

Q. You're playing in L.A. on Saturday night against Agassi.

Q. Are you looking forward to that?
JOHN McENROE: I'm looking forward to that very much. I haven't played Andre - for quite a while, I should say. That should be a tall order also.
It's not been easy. It's frustrating because I know I need to play well. It's all about like if I feel good. But things haven't clicked the way I wanted. Those things happen. If you're like a step slow right now, these guys are hitting a big ball, those things happen in a hurry.

Q. You mentioned the commentating. Do you like it? Do you like it better than being out on the court?
JOHN McENROE: Well, it's a lot easier, I'll tell you that. You can feel stiff and still do a pretty good job, whereas in tennis it's a little harder to pull off. I've been doing that since 1992. It's been a lot more rewarding than I would have thought when I first started doing it. So I'm happy that I became part of it.
I feel like in a little tiny way, I'm part of what you see. If I can add to it in a way, it's nice if people come up and tell you they like what you're trying to do. It's worked out better than I expected.

Q. In terms of your World TeamTennis future moving forward, is it pretty much a year-by-year assessment?
JOHN McENROE: Almost match-by-match. But year-by-year certainly. We'll see. I don't want to be a drag certainly.
I had a good, strong year last year. This year has been disappointing. It could still end and we could potentially win this. So, I mean, in a way it's true, though. If we win this, and even though I played bad, I'll still feel like I'm part of a team that won it, even though it wasn't really me that did it. I feel a sense of pride to do that.
So hopefully that will happen and maybe I can be there Sunday, fly out early if it happens. We'll see what happens. They've got to win that match. That's the tough part. We'll see.

Q. Going back to the commentating. Since you've been doing it for so long, do you find when you see the players kind of off the court, is it weird if you've been critical of them?
JOHN McENROE: Sometimes. But, I mean, I think people respect you if you're honest. I don't see the players as much as I'd like, to be quite honest. I'd like to be more available, especially if I had something to say. You want them to be able to come up to you.
I don't criticize people for bad strokes. People play different ways. It's not about that. It's about effort. If people give a hundred percent effort, I'm not really critical. You can sort of look at a match a different way. It's not being critical. If a guy has a bad day, he knows better than I do. It's not a big secret I don't think for most people.
If his game plan turns out to be wrong, hopefully he would at least think about what I have to say and decide this guy played like a dinosaur, he didn't play anything like me, I'll do what I want, he'll think about it constructively.
It's only about trying to make players better, in my mind. That's what I would prefer to do. Most of it's not about your strokes or technique, it's about your heart and your will, seizing the moment, knowing when the concentration needs to be there and effort.
There's no better example than Nadal to sort of combine all these things. These guys don't need to look at me, they need to look at the people they're playing in most cases.

Q. We keep asking you the same question. I'll ask again. The status of American men's tennis these days?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I mean, there's a couple good stories that I like because I'm starting a tennis academy where it's not going to be live, breathe tennis all day.
Isner, I believe he's going to get to the top 10 in the world. He's a guy that went to three or four years of college. Querrey, our two best hopes, are maturing later, which I think is a good thing, and will maybe help us. We'd like to produce more players like that and hopefully we'll get better athletes, more people paying attention, we'll get a breakthrough, guys winning slams.
Maybe if Roddick is lucky, it's going to be difficult now, but if he's lucky, he had a really tough loss to lose so early. I think he really thought about that the whole year after that great match with Federer. That would have been a bit of a boost.
But the key is getting people out there on the court.

Q. What are your thoughts as far as the torch? Has that been passed from Federer to Nadal? He's been on quite a streak.
JOHN McENROE: We thought that that had happened a couple years ago, and then Nadal got hurt. Now we think it's happening again.
It's reasonable to assume that if he's healthy, it has been. But at the same time that's a little unpredictable. Roger is not going to dominate the way he did. He knows it. Pretty much everybody knows it. He loves to play still. That's a big advantage. I think he'll win a couple more majors. I think the upside for Nadal is greater. He could win six, seven more. I think Federer could win one, two more. That's my opinion. Maybe he'll prove me wrong. He's already got 16, so it's not like he hasn't broken every record already. Maybe give someone else a chance.
Thank you.

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