23 Feb McENROE ENTERTAINS ON OPENING NIGHT
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McENROE ENTERTAINS ON OPENING NIGHT
[column size=”00-1″ last=”1″ style=”1″]Moya and McEnroe Friday’s Winners By Steve Dorsey
The always-entertaining John McEnroe concluded the first day of the Delray Beach ITC with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6 (10-4) victory Friday night against Pat Cash in the first round of round robin play in the ATP Champions Tour event.
McEnroe started the match strong and finished with a flourish by easily winning the tiebreaker to set the stage for a showdown Saturday night against nemesis Mats Wilander.
Carlos Moya defeated Aaron Krickstein in two sets, 6-4, 6-4 in the other Champions Tour match that kicked off 10 days of tennis here at the Delray Beach International Tennis Center.
McEnroe and Cash drew applause and laughs from the crowd from the start. When McEnroe delivered a blistering ace that froze Cash to open the match, Cash yelled across the net, “Are you ready?”
It didn’t take long for McEnroe to unleash his patented, “You can’t be serious” response to the chair umpire when he disputed an out call on the first point of the second game. McEnroe then appealed to the fans in the southeastern corner of the stadium, and when they concurred with the call, he flung his racket across the net, drawing even a smile from the chair umpire. Cash calmly walked over, picked it up and tossed it into the stands, drawing laughter from the crowd.
McEnroe went on to win the first set, but Cash stormed back to tie the match at a set apiece when he broke serve three times in the second set to force the tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker was all McEnroe, however, and he applauded the crowd before heading off the court to a throng of autograph seekers.
“The crowd was good, and that got me through in the end,” McEnroe said. “I was a little up and down, but I haven’t played in a couple of months, so that’s to be expected, and I think it’s going to get a little bit better each day.”
McEnroe, who last week turned 54, can clinch a spot in Sunday’s championship match with a win against the 48-year-old Wilander on Saturday. They each won seven Grand Slam singles titles during their ATP careers. Wilander will play both of his round robin matches on Saturday, one in the afternoon and the other in the nightcap against McEnroe.
“Well, I like my chances against Mats tomorrow,” McEnroe said. “I think that if I play up to what I’m capable of, I’ll be in good shape. Things are going to be a hell of a lot tougher on Sunday, I know that, but first things first, and we’ll see how it goes. But I feel like I’ll play better tomorrow.”
Moya, who is in the opposite group from McEnroe, has been the ATP Champions Tour No. 1-ranked player the past two years since a foot injury forced his retirement from the ATP World Tour.
“It’s nice to be back here and to win again,” said Moya, who is the defending champion at Delray Beach and next faces Mark Philippoussis. “I like this court and I think that was a nice match for the crowd to watch. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good match against Mark because we always have some good battles on this Tour.”
Saturday’s round robin play will include four matchups beginning at 12:30 pm when Moya faces Philippoussis, followed by the Cash-Wilander match. The evening card will kick off with Philippoussis taking on Krickstein at 6:30 pm, followed by the day’s marquee matchup with McEnroe sqaring off against Wilander in the nightcap scheduled to begin at approximately 8:30 pm.
Wilander will be presented his official International Tennis Hall of Fame ring during a special ceremony prior to his evening match against McEnroe. Wilander was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, but personalized rings were only introduced last year and are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next few years to commemorate their induction.
The ITC qualifying matches also begin Saturday, beginning at 11 am.