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Tennis : McEnroe Talks About Davis Cup (Difficult), Stakes Matches (No Bozos)

November 29, 1987|Lisa Dillman

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The subject was tennis, and as always, John McEnroe seemed to have an answer for almost every question.

His press conference after Friday's action was lengthy but it wasn't as long-winded as his post-match session Saturday, which lasted more than a half-hour.

In the last two days, McEnroe has discussed his suspension, unions, American Davis Cup prospects, his family, the appeal of Skins golf games and Stakes Matches, and egos in the broadcast booth. Some of his observations:

--On the Davis Cup: "It's kind of tough to get pumped up when you know you can't win the Davis Cup. With all that's happened, I am turned off. I played every match for seven years, and all of a sudden crazy things started happening. I'm certainly not as eager as I was.

"I hope it works itself out, just like I hope the last couple of years will be enjoyable. At this stage, I'm not going to push it. We're going to play the winner of Peru or Chile . . . If we can't beat these guys . . . well, we didn't beat the other guys. We could lose to these guys, too. I don't know if I should have to play against Peru or Chile at this point in my career."

--On the difficulty the U.S. has had playing in South America: "It's tough to play in South America. But there are some guys on this team who are clay-court players. I mean, at one time (Jimmy) Arias was in the top 10. And (Aaron) Krickstein was supposed to be this phenomenon on clay. If (Jimmy) Connors had played any of these years, I don't think he would have lost to these guys. It's just that we haven't gotten the best guys to play, either. That's what's really the bottom line. That's what really matters.

"Who would have thought that (Tim) Mayotte goes out? You think he's having an excellent year, and then he falls apart in Davis Cup? You can't count on that. You can see it happen a lot and you kind of don't think it's going to happen again, and then it does. Then all of a sudden he wins a couple of tournaments at the end of the year. And now he's going to be the top guy, supposedly, for us again.

"Then you get (Brad) Gilbert, who is a successful Grand Prix player. And then in the match where we really needed him to win (in Australia), he's up two sets to one against (Paul) McNamee (and) he loses love and one. Those are the types of matches that made the difference for us. We should have won all those matches. There's not one of those matches we should have lost."

--On why the Stakes Match would appeal more to a viewer than a regular tournament: "One reason they may find it interesting is that it doesn't take too long and they get to see four of the top guys in a two-hour period of time. You go watch the U.S. Open and you see bozos play most of the time, and that's bad for tennis. You see people you've never heard of, and you see (Ivan) Lendl beat the hell out of them. I don't think that's good for the game.

"To the real tennis fan, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon are the biggest tournaments. But to a person who may only know two, three, four guys in all of tennis, here's a chance where you can have maybe all of the guys they may know, and they get to see them all in a two-hour period of time. In case there's one bad match, here comes another one to back it up."

Lendl was asked whether the Stakes Match would work as successfully with the top four women players.

"Women? I don't know," he said. "It depends on how much they choke. I think that's the beauty of it. It gets to the point where it's really hard to make good shots. Then, everybody misses shots sometimes, like when Stefan (Edberg) missed an easy overhead. And people in the stands feel good because they miss it every day."

There was a chance ABC-TV might have wanted to exercise an option to have one, or both, of the round-robin losers in the booth to comment on the Lendl-Pat Cash final today.

When Edberg failed to make the final, he was asked about the possibility. The Swede, who is starting to open up more and more, looked embarrassed at the very thought.

"I wouldn't like to do that," he said. "No thank you. I've never done it before and I don't want to make any comments about their games. I've been on the radio (in Sweden) for maybe two minutes. It's very hard. . . . It's not a future job for me."

McEnroe, the other loser in round-robin play, didn't seem to like the idea, either, saying:

"I'll leave that to Stefan. People hear me enough. They don't hear him too much. Let's see what he has to say. I don't want to crowd up the booth. It seems pretty crowded enough. They've got pretty good egos, too."

Cash once again recounted his much-celebrated experience with the supernatural, which occured earlier this fall in Sydney, Australia.

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