If John McEnroe had a business card, it might read, "Have Racket, Will Travel." He played his seventh match in seven nights, in a seventh city, Monday night at the Forum.
But if he was travel weary, it wasn't evident as he beat France's Yannick Noah, 6-1, 6-4, in the second round of the Forum Tennis Challenge Series.
The match lasted only an hour and eight minutes.
The brevity of the match apparently disappointed many among the crowd of 8,788, some of whom paid $50 for base line boxes. The average ticket price was almost $23.
The more obvious it became that McEnroe was dominating, the more the crowd cheered for Noah.
"I feel I'm playing better," said McEnroe, who lost in the quarter-finals early this month at Wimbledon, his last tournament appearance.
"It was almost embarrassing the way I was playing before. When you know you can play better and don't do it, that's the worst thing that can happen to an athlete."
This was McEnroe's second victory in the Forum Challenge series, a round-robin tournament that also features Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Noah.
McEnroe beat Lendl in straight sets in April. The next round will be played on Nov. 18, when McEnroe meets Connors.
The winner of the finals next April receives $100,000.
Noah, who won the D.C. National Bank tournament two weeks ago and reached the semifinals of the U.S. Clay Court championships last week in Indianapolis, never appeared at ease against McEnroe.
McEnroe said that might have been because they were playing on a Supreme Court surface, a fast surface that is more suited to McEnroe's serve and volley game than Noah's base line game.
"I thought he was going to do a little better," McEnroe said. "He's not as comfortable on this type of court. Playing on clay is a lot different. He seemed half a step off."
Noah is a better clay court player, having won the 1983 French Open on that surface. The only other time McEnroe and Noah have met was on clay. In 1982 Davis Cup play at Grenoble, France, McEnroe won in five sets, 12-10, 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
But Noah said he wasn't beaten by the surface. "I was just playing a better player tonight," he said.
That was evident as early as the fourth game, when McEnroe broke Noah's serve for the first time. McEnroe broke Noah again in the sixth game.
There was only one break in the second set, but that was all McEnroe needed for the victory.
As is usually the case in a non-tournament match, there were some light-hearted moments.
After the first game of the first set, people weren't returning to their seats fast enough to suit the players following the changeover. One woman was particularly slow, moving McEnroe to imitate her lazy walk. Noah lobbed a ball at her but missed.
There were few complaints about the line calls, although McEnroe once requested, jokingly, that the overhead scoreboard be raised after he lobbed a ball into it, giving Noah an automatic point.
Noah, one of professional tennis' best athletes, made several spectacular shots. Three times, while running toward the base line after McEnroe lobs, he hit shots between his legs that cleared the net.
None of them resulted in points for himself, but McEnroe was impressed enough after the first one to spend several seconds at the base line practicing the maneuver.
The last thing McEnroe appears to need now is practice. On his Tennis U.S.A. tour, he played six straight nights in six different cities against Vitas Gerulaitis, winning five of them. He flew from New York to Los Angeles Monday morning.
"I asked for a couple of days off before this match, but they already had something else scheduled for the Forum," McEnroe said. "I played better than I thought I would. I thought I might be tired."
McEnroe will be at his Malibu home for the remainder of the week, then play tournaments the next two weeks in preparation for the U.S. Open.
In an earlier match, Jimmy Arias beat Vince Van Patten, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.