“My biggest rival was Borg, but Sampras was even more difficult”

“My biggest rival was Borg, but Sampras was even more difficult”

John McEnroe is one of those players who marked tennis both for his game and for his strong character, which made him play in several unforgettable scenes in the history of tennis. On the occasion of the US Open, McEnroe gave an interview to the newspaper L’Équipe in which he analyzed who were the toughest rivals of his career. “My biggest rival was Bjorn Borg, I played the most exciting matches of my career against him. But the toughest I faced was Pete Sampras. I wasn’t as strong as when I started and tennis was changing. He had more power and playing against him was unpleasant because I played without rhythm and without pleasure. Against Connors, Borg or Lendl it was difficult but I was able to show my game. Whether it worked or not, he played as he wanted, but not with Sampras. He had great serve and was looking for winners from the first point.

‘Big Mac’ also took the opportunity to throw a dart at one of his big rivals, fellow countryman Jimmy Connors. “The baddest tennis player? Jimmy Connors, he’s like those people we haven’t fed in a long time. I had a dislike for the other side of the track. And when it didn’t work, he talked to me and I answered him. It was fun, we talked nonsense. Now you don’t see that anymore. I don’t know if it was better or worse, but the match was more interesting. And I think the funniest player was Eddie Dibbes. He made jokes and made fun of everyone. The least funny was Lendl, because he never stopped trying to be funny”

When it comes to the crazy things he’s done on the track, McEnroe also brought up the name Nick Kyrgios, assuring he surpasses him when it comes to reacting in games. “Nick Kyrgios is the craziest tennis player I’ve ever seen. Take the craziness to the next level. I like him, he looks like a nice guy, but on the track he does crazy things and I hope he realizes that he has great opportunities ahead of him. In my day I thought Johan Kriek was crazy and many would think that of me. But I would give the Oscar to Kyrgios My way of reacting to the fear of losing was to get angry, but Kyrgios is out of touch. When I played with Borg I saw a normal guy and if you’ve played tennis you know it’s very frustrating. No one can be like Borg, who has never shown an expression. It makes tennis special that you are only on the court for three hours, we should be less harsh on tennis players”.

Finally, McEnroe looks back on his disqualification at the 1990 Australian Open and the painful defeat against Ivan Lendl in the 1984 Roland Garros final. “My weirdest moment on a tennis court was when I was disqualified at the 1990 Australian Open. Little did I know the rule had changed and I was entitled to another protest. Someone like me Anyone who has often broken the rules should know that! I remember saying to my agent: “You should have told me! And my worst moment on a tennis court was the losing final against Lendl at Roland Garros in 1984. J think about it often and they always remind me of that game. It was my fault, I should have tried harder to win, planned my schedule better. Despite that, in 1984 I won 82 out of 85 games. All the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but from then on I didn’t know what to do to stay on top.

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