home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


September 5, 1992

John McEnroe


Q. John, are you officially a factor now?

JOHN McENROE: Well, I am here playing the number one player in the world, so if I lose badly that is not much of a factor. But I am there with the opportunity and I feel like I have been playing pretty well in the tournament. And now I just need to pick it up another level. It is not going to do the job if I go out there -- I think there was a couple of opportunities where I gave him a chance at some passes that Jim Courier would put the ball away or hit a lob over my head or not miss, especially -- and with Richard Fromberg, today, the fact is he is a more of a clay court player, where Jim is an all-around player. He knows how to shorten up his swing on the passing shots. Richard had trouble with that. He got himself standing where he was farther and farther back, I mean, he was almost behind the curtain, and at some point -- I mean, I haven't seen people do that to me recently. Most guys at this point are standing closer, go for big swings and maybe even go for a winner return. What he was doing was standing way back; sort of trying to get it in and play low, that is a low percentage play against somebody who can serve and volley. You are not going to see Jim do something like that. So it is like starting over, in a sense, when I play him. I feel like I played real well and gotten to where I am supposed to get. This is a whole other deal. This separates the men from the boys here. Jim is-- people sort of talk how he is not playing that well. He has had one or two bad results the whole year; all of a sudden, he is not playing well. It is ridiculous. He has had, by far, the best year anyone has had. He is the number one player in the world, clearly. He is with a good shoe-in here. He could put that all to rest. I know he is going to be really intense, and it will be a unbelievably tough match.

Q. John, do you feel you are playing as well as you did at Wimbledon?

JOHN McENROE: That is hard to say. I feel like I haven't played the players. It is a little hard to tell because the players I have played are not quite at the level as some of the players I beat there. I have played Wheaton who is considered to be one of the top ten grass court players. Pat Cash is a guy you don't know about whatsoever. He certainly proved that he is playing well on grass. Essentially, I have one really good set against me, set and a half, that was pretty much it. I don't think the other players would say they played their best. I felt like I played well, forced them into not playing well, but at the same time, I haven't played seeded players. I played a couple of seeded players over there. Now, this is my first one. It will be interesting, but I feel like I am playing well. I don't feel like my playing it much different. This is a different surface, so it is a different -- it is different, you are not going to win. It is just a different style, a little bit of the game-- I was supposed to play Jim in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. I think my chances probably would have been better there, but at the same time, this is certainly not a bad surface to me. Certainly better for me to play him on hardcourt than it would be on clay. This is the second best thing, probably.

Q. The first time you ever played Jim, what had you thought about it and --

JOHN McENROE: First time I played him, I played him way back in Detroit back in-- I don't know, three, four years ago, and he had a bit-- a fiery sort of attitude. I remember he sort of-- I said, I can't remember, but there was something where he sort of complained to the umpire about something I did. I said, Hey, that is pretty crass for a young guy. And then, I hadn't known much about him at that point, and then I started to hear more and more about him, and the type of person he was, and he is -- he has done so well in the last few years, so well, and then the only other time we played was last year in April, in a tournament in Japan, he beat me real badly on a hardcourt, a little bit slower, a little bit heavier balls, but certainly beat up on me there, and now, all of a sudden he's the number one player in the world. So, you have, basically, a four-year period where I have seen him and-- seen him becoming the consummate professional, the type of profession where he is very, very well prepared. He has had some very, very good coaching and he is a very, very good learner. Those are the qualities you see in champions, people who learn from other people as well as their own mistakes. And he has done that exceptionally well.

Q. John, obviously the crowd is going to be with you. He seems like the type who is not going to let that bother him at all. Do you see it the same way? Is he the type whose concentration can get away?

JOHN McENROE: I think basically that is true. If he starts getting way down, for example, I am sure that he will start getting upset. I don't think there is going to be a major big crowd. To be honest, he is the type, I mean -- there is going to be some people on my side, but at the same time, he is not the type of player that has done anything, at least people in the last year or two know about the -- There aren't people rooting against him. So he is not going to have people that are out there. They don't know much about him, other than that New York is historically-- almost every fan is usually going to root for the underdog. But at the same time, I have won in four times. It is not like a lot of people think that I am better than, or had a better year than Jim Courier that are coming out Monday. A lot of people don't know the actual rankings. So I think it is going to be interesting -- I think it is going to be a loud crowd like normally. I don't think it is going to be a major factor, one way or the other. Unless I played great tennis, it is not going to matter what they do. They can stand on their heads and do cart wheels while he serves; it is not going to make a difference if I play not up to my ability at this point. So it is like every person in the crowd could yell last night, but it wasn't going to change the result. I mean, it is -- it doesn't matter if your level is not up to the challenge.

Q. Do you feel for him in a sense of having to legitimize the number one ranking, did you ever go through that early on?

JOHN McENROE: I guess back in 81 when I was-- when I finally took over number one, I mean, it was a couple of years in the making. His was more of a sudden thing, and as you -- when he won down there. He has been working the past six, nine months to solidify that ranking. I mean, he got it in February; then he lost it briefly. Got it back; did a great job winning the French; then he lost at Wimbledon; then the Olympics he lost, now this is the way to sort of solidify the number one ranking for him. This is huge for him. But he also has the comfort to know that he is-- has won it already, so that takes some of the pressure off. But at the same time, he knows he is going to nail it down if he wins, so it is a nice feeling to have and he is still young enough where I don't think it is going to affect him negatively. He doesn't -- I am sure he is going to feel some pressure. I don't think it is going to be a major, major factor.

Q. Are you at the stage now where what you play for is to have the opportunity against the number one guy as opposed to when you were top ranked and you could think in terms of, I am playing to win this tournament?

JOHN McENROE: It is more of that thing, more of that thing, but at the same time, I am not-- I don't want to be a punching bag either; that is, come out and lose to the number one guy and that is good enough. That is not what I came here for. The first step is to get the chance; next step is to go out there; try to figure out some way you think you are going to win. It is really tough, but you have no chance unless you think you can do it. Next couple of days is going to be spent trying to think of the best possible game plan and believing that I could win, because, otherwise, it is not going to happen.

Q. John, two years ago, you basically were what Connors was last year. I mean, the crowd got behind you and you got on a roll; sort of at Wimbledon this year also, do you feel it is happening again at this point or do you need a win over Courier?

JOHN McENROE: Talking about Connors and this whole thing going on, and now this is totally different. There is no similarities between me and Jimmy as far as the way that has gone. I actually went into my match against Sampras -- in retrospect, felt I was a little over confident. I felt like playing Pete in the semis. He hadn't really been there before he had beaten Lendl. I figured at that stage, I had been playing, Pete was certainly as good or maybe even better at playing Lendl at that stage. For me, I haven't had much success against Lendl recently, maybe once in last six, eight times that I have beaten him. I felt like, in retrospect, I probably went in a little bit feeling like I really could do it, whereas the situation now has changed to the point where, obviously, there is Jim and then Andre in our court who are playing really well. Those are two of the main favorites right there. Then, you might as well-- those three guys are the three main favorites along with Stefan, then you have like a group of guys that are really, really dangerous guys. They get back and Becker or Lendl is still going to be in there fighting to the bitter end. He is not going to go without a fight. Those four are the guys that most likely, I think, are one of those four is probably going to win. I'd like to have something to say about it.

Q. John, in preparation for a match with someone like a Courier, did you ever, like, look at videotapes of them playing, or trying to find a weakness in their games? Try to find a way that you could exploit it?

JOHN McENROE: No, I don't. I know their games pretty well, and I, more or less, think more about myself, myself, making myself prepared, I know what Jim does well, and I have seen him around. I have watched him play on TV. I have seen him play live. I played against him. I don't think that reviewing a couple of tapes -- I don't know, maybe it is just not something I have done historically. And I think at this point, I am not saying that is it wrong if people do it. I know some people do and I know in team sports they do quite a bit of that. I have never really done that. But I think -- can't imagine that making a difference at this point in my career.

Q. Does Courier have a weakness that could be exploited in your mind?

JOHN McENROE: If I honestly believe that he did, I would not be sitting here saying it is out loud, but he doesn't have a weakness. It is not like he has a weakness. He can't be number one and have a weakness. He has excellent first serving, heavy second serve. He has become a competent volleyer. He has done the type of thing where he can sort of drop shot. He did that against Agassi a little bit at the French, which is unexpected. It was a very strange looking drop shot, but very effective. And he is very -- he hangs in there. I mean, he is not going to give away points. And he just, he is a smart player. So it is-- no, he doesn't have a weakness. He has done some things better than others, but I mean, I played him where I felt you think, okay, slice my serve out wide to his backhand. He has a lot better return ever than people realize. It is going to require excellent serving job as well as really going out to the volley when he gives me the opportunities. Anything above the net I really got to go for it. Like really string it or else he is going to make me pay for it.

Q. John, since this is your last year, last full year on the tour, have you thought about what it would mean, to win this tournament one more time?

JOHN McENROE: Well, one thing would mean, I would be playing another year, so -- I am not trying to think about that. I haven't really thought about it. I have been playing quite a bit this year. I still have a lot -- not a lot, but my -- got four, at least four other tournaments hopefully two other Davis Cup matches. I have got the Grand Slam Cup at the end of the year. I have got a couple of weeks where I am playing a couple of exhibitions against Andre, different times, and I think a couple of more sometime. I have got a full schedule at the end of the year. I am not even going to think about it. At the end of the year comes, I am going to take a few months off; just sort of just look back and see what I feel like. No way of saying right now what I really, really want. No way of knowing when you are sort of in the heat of the battle. Only way of knowing -- when you take the step -- I don't know if you know then, but hopefully you get a better perspective at that point.

Q. You were really outspoken about the Grand Slam Cup when it was first initiated. Could you talk to us why?

JOHN McENROE: The reason I request it was because the idea back couple of years ago was that the players were going to run a tour and I thought that that was the idea behind the new tour, the reality that the players don't have a God damn thing to do with the tour. The tournament directors run the tour. ITF. runs the Grand Slams and the Majors. And they have done nothing, whatsoever, for me, the ATP in any way, shape, or form about anything. So, for me not to play -- I did it for the ATP, and Boris and Andre, Mats at that point were the four guys that stayed back. What do we get in return? They want us to play more and more events. Then they have get all these guys that go around like these tournament directors like Charlie Pasarell criticizing the top players saying how spoiled we are all the time; they expect us to go to their events. It is a joke. I am going to do what I consider the best -- I don't think it is right necessarily that the Masters and the Grand Slam Cup were right next to each other. I think it's a bit of a joke, but I mean, I don't think I should be hurt. I rather go there; take the money, and give it to some people that really need it. I mean, there is no point for me to just pass it along to some other guy that gets it because I don't go. I rather go there and put it to some homeless people or some charities. I mean, I don't-- it is -- and compete, try to compete and do the best I can. Because this could be the last event I could play for quite awhile or who knows, so I mean, it's a totally different situation. The ATP never said, okay, if you don't play in the tournament, we will give you such and such. None of the top players feel like that the tour has really done -- has-- anything has been done for the top players other than to sort of try to say that, Oh, this is really a great tour because everyone is playing more and more. I don't think when guys go out there -- I have said it all before. No point of going it all over again. It is spilt milk at this point. I don't feel like -- I don't have any-- if they want to run it their way, it is unfortunate. I don't think it is in the best interest of the game that tournament directors run tennis. I think that is a joke. That people-- to go around and then they complain about it. They make this all this money and then they go around saying how much the top players make. I think they should go look at these guys, like people who run Palm Springs, Pasarell, and down in up New Haven, go see how much money they make in one week. Ask Charlie Pasarell how much money he makes. See if he has the right to criticize the top players. It bothers me when people stab us in the back; then turn around and use us, as well, and I am fortunate, I mean, I have been really lucky. I am not going to tell the people watching the TV that I haven't been because I have been. I have been really lucky; came in at a time when there wasn't much going on initially. Then it exploded in a financial way, and also in recognition now, you have-- it is like stratospheric now with this Grand Slam Cup. It is obscene, the money, it is really ridiculous. That is happening in all the other sports. Look at baseball, and basketball, and all and even to some extent, in football, I mean, there are other ones are tagging behind. Hockey is struggling behind trying to come up a little bit, but it is all about who makes the money. I mean, I think the people that lay it on the line should be making their share. I mean, if someone is going to make it, now I still think that I mean, it is like I have said before, I think athletes are overpaid, but if you had strong enough leadership at some area, then they can put that money and get people to donate some money and then really use it in a positive way. Instead of the way it is now. It is not-- I just don't think it is-- that is for everybody, I really don't. I mean the top ten tennis players are portrayed as the spoiled guys. I don't think that would be the reality at all if we had some good leadership. I don't feel that way at all. I think it has just been-- I mean, of course, we have ourselves to blame to some extent, sort of allowed it to happen. If people analyze the system, to do what it takes to be the best, requires almost like a 52 week a year concentration. There is almost no time whatsoever where you can get away from it if you want to be the number one player in the world. They want you to play 20, 25 tournaments, you represent Davis Cup, Olympics, there is no time to sort of sit back and do things for, like, charities or take time off to get yourself to feel how lucky you are. You feel like you are in this constant merry-go-round, that it doesn't allow you to appreciate what you have. That is the problem. I mean, so you are constantly looking over your shoulder for like the next tournament. That is not really what is in the best interest of tennis in my opinion.

Q. If this is going to be your last appearance at the Open as a full-time player, what--

JOHN McENROE: If I beat Courier or Agassi, Becker -- semis, Sampras, and Edberg, I will be all right.

Q. What is it that you would miss about the place, about the tournament?

JOHN McENROE: I think you probably can ask a lot of different athletes in all different sports, probably ask Larry Bird a couple of weeks ago, and it is probably the toughest thing that an athlete has to do. You feel like you are young in a certain way; you are sort of -- have to retire, so it is -- I mean, there is camaraderie even in tennis in a small way that exists where you feel, really, you really feel that, and then you feel like the people coming around still feeling like you can do it, tremendous satisfaction when people are real positive and obviously there is no other way possible I could make a living, you know, being in that profession. Being an Athlete is the greatest job in the world. But it is difficult to do it a couple months of the year. That is the part. You can't-- especially in tennis, you can't do it like part-time, really, you have to do it constantly to feel like you are doing your best, all or nothing, you have to do. When you have children that you want to spend some time with, you sacrifice too much. That is just the realities. No one sheds any tears.

Q. Most American fans picture you a part of Wimbledon, against Borg, or picture you here. What would you miss about being at the Open and what is it that you are safer at?

JOHN McENROE: You don't, I really don't look at it that way. I am involved with this right now. It is probably years before you'll look back and be able to talk that way. It really-- I don't have that perspective. I am still playing as a full-time player. I am proud to be 16 on seed. I am not going to hang high that I am the 16th seed. I am proud of the way I am feeling, like I am doing the best I can. These are a lot of great players. When you get old, I'd think it is wrong, just because you are old. I thought, like, the reality is that it doesn't matter how hold you are. It matters how good you are. It is-- that is the way sports is. I mean, if it so happens that at some point other guys come in who are better, they should be given the credit for that. I have had my run. They deserve this, and that is something to be proud of, That I have mine. And that I am still fighting the best I can to try to beat a Jim Courier, but I am not going to sit here say, well, eight years ago I would have beaten him. That is absurd. That is like having the older guys saying, I know the older players that you hear, they say, oh, we can beat all the players, now, you feel like that is sort of funny. And you feel like that is insulting. That is the same way with now. I don't think that the top players deserve to be insulted. They have worked a long time to get to where they are. It so happens in sports that a lot of times, when you are younger, you may have, like, your better years, sometimes it is almost better not to know about it. I mean, not to really know how lucky you are at that time. So, that is just the way it is. Sometimes, you peak at 21 or 25, and I mean, if ideally you like to peak in your 30s and work your way up, that is not the way sports is. You have to accept the good with the bad. There is a lot of unbelievable pluses, and the negatives -- when you still feel young, and I still feel fit, that I have been doing it 15 years. It has got to take a little bit of a toll mentally and physically and to try to accomplish something else in your life besides just hitting balls your whole life, would be satisfying. It is not going to maybe have the same joy that you do if you win the U.S. Open. But anyone that has children knows how satisfying that can be, also how difficult it could be. It is very difficult, some of them, the basic things in life, and some of the most difficult things. That is where you have to-- at some stage, you have to decide you are going to stop being a kid and grow up a little bit.

Q. Do you think you could ever feel really good or right about retiring?

JOHN McENROE: I don't think any athlete feels totally right about it. I really don't know. I don't know. Maybe I am wrong, but I can't imagine guys that feel really good about walking away from something that they have been doing 25, 25 years. A lot of years even before I have started play professionally. I used to love to play any sport, as a kid, going from one sport to another. I am-- I was lucky that I played one this well, that I could go for it as a living. As I said earlier, I think to be a professional athlete to me is the greatest job in the world. It is unbelievably great to be a professional athlete; play sports. That is what I have done. That is a dream. So you know, it is not going to be the same, but at the same time, that is, as I said also, it is just the way it is.

Q. John, do you think you got a shot for the doubles championship this year?

JOHN McENROE: Oh, definitely. I mean, I wouldn't have entered in. I didn't. I have a shot for the singles.

Q. I heard that.

JOHN McENROE: As I said, I mean, you never know what could happen. Courier could get hit by a car, and he might be too afraid to even step on the court against me.

Q. For you growing up here, living here, does a run at the U.S. Open feel different than a run at any other major--

JOHN McENROE: I mean, when I grew up, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon were the big events. I grew up 15 minutes from here. So this is like, to play here, I mean, not-- I grew up in Forest Hills, but the U.S. Open, in New York, in Queens, is what I grew up with, the Wimbledon was like a fantasy, like on the other side of the ocean, that was-- seemed so far away. A couple of years I was a ball boy. It was unbelievable to even a be a part of that. Then to be able to go over to Wimbledon, I mean that is what it is all about. I grew up 15 minutes from here, so, I always have -- this is unbelievable for me to be able to have won this tournament.

Q. Is it still a thrill, as much a thrill when you went out the first time, Forest Hills, obviously, it is got to be different?

JOHN McENROE: Totally different. Let us face it, this is like our World Series. Stanley Cup Playoffs or the Super Bowl, so for us, this is the biggest thing we got. I mean the Olympics is going to come up with even more-- Olympics is going to have more and more important players who grew up dreaming to play the Olympics. Unfortunately, when I grew up there was no tennis in the Olympics, so I didn't dream of playing in the Olympics. I always loved watching it. I dreamed of playing the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and Davis Cup was our opportunity to play a team event. So, that is going to become more important; that there will be one other thing to shoot for, for the kids.

Q. You mentioned, you can't walk off the airplane a few times a year to play tennis tournaments, seems to me like you if you haven't already made up your mind, you are leaning on what you might do; is that right?

JOHN McENROE: I would say so, yeah. Basically I am playing sort of take a step back for a few months, then I'd like to try to play a couple of matches like exhibition matches against a Courier, Agassi, the top guys, if they are willing to do it, to keep sharp, and I mean certainly know how far away I am, if you play those guys, and go to some countries where maybe you play like the top guy, like Krajicek and Holland, as an example, or that type of thing, and see if people are ready, willing, and able to do that. Then by the time the French, Wimbledon will come, I will be doing the commentary there. And I will say, Hey, I really want to do this. Let us face it, these are the biggest ones. I don't need to run into events that no one reads in the newspapers, where it doesn't mean that much. Those are sort of used at this point with this system, you have the best 14 system, essentially using those as-- I am not going to say exhibitions, but in a way, like is if you haven't played, it used to be you wouldn't walk into a tournament; you get yourself prepared by playing a week of exhibitions against the top guys, so that when you went in the tournament, you were pumped; all of a sudden you play two tournaments; first of which is like you are throwing the dice. Because you don't know what to expect. So it is a different situation, now, but it is just -- unpredictable to know right now. I don't suspect I will be playing any -- many very, very few tournaments, if any, next year, and I mean, time-- I mean, look, it is not-- it is-- there is no definite answer -- I don't know if there will ever be one. I really don't. Who the hell knows what is going to happen. There are options available, options to play-- options to play tournaments, the big ones, hopefully be involved in Davis Cup as a coach or as a player. Then you have the possibility of playing even some, if I wanted to play doubles with Michael next year, I mean, there is all types of things to look at. I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to sort of look at different options.

Q. Thank you very much.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297