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PowerShares Series Tennis - Featuring Legendary Old-Timers "Competing" for the Fans


DonRocks
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I'll start a Johnny Mac thread in due course - he certainly deserves one.

I'm sitting in Sudwerk in Davis, CA, enjoying a 22-ounce mug of really good Märzen,and watching 56-year-old John McEnroe playing a dead-even first set against 35-year-old James Blake.

McEnroe looks and plays *exactly* how a McEnroe fan would want him to look and play - this is like watching the Johnny Mac of old, except that he has thinning, silver hair, and everything he does is about 20% slower - but this really is like taking a time machine back to the early 80s.

If you get a chance, it's on CSN, it's called the PowerShares Series, and McEnroe just won the set - and the match! - 6-4. This was the semis, and he'll play the winner of Michael Chang (age 43) - Andy Roddick (age 32) in the finals. Jeez, is Roddick really younger than Roger Federer?!

I need to look into this, but I wonder if McEnroe is the best 55-and-over player in the world right now. He did, after all, win the French Open 45-and-over Men's Doubles competition in 2014.

The format of these "tournaments" is that they are one evening long, contain four (invited) players, and consist of two semi-finals and one finals, all three matches comprised of one set only.

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ROFL - The players call their own lines in these matches. Roddick just aced Chang on an underhand serve (you can only hope Lendl was watching) ... and Chang called it OUT! It was in by five feet!

PS - I think these matches aren't "fixed" so much as they're "arranged." It's sort of like watching "The Ice Capades" instead of "The Olympics" - they're not going all-out; their primary goal is to entertain the crowd.

At the end of the first game between McEnroe-Blake, for example, McEnroe lost, and threw his racket all the way across the court - the crowd ate it up. Of *course* it was for their entertainment.

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Roddick beat McEnroe in the finals, and he participated in an arranged 6-4 set. When I say "arranged," I mean that a 32-year-old Roddick could have beaten a 57-year-old McEnroe 6-0 right now if he had wanted to: These tournaments are not necessarily "fixed" in terms of "who wins," but "arranged" in terms of "how they win." I promise you that Andy Roddick could have beaten John McEnroe 6-0 if he had wanted to. And that's not taking anything away from the great John McEnroe - there were more seats empty at this match than there were seats full. This whole thing is a feel-good fraud. I'm absolutely not saying that if there were two evenly-matched players going at it, they wouldn't let them go head-to-head in a dogfight; I'm merely saying that there aren't, and that it's much more important to get "names" for people to come watch (again, I emphasize that there were more seats empty than full), than it would be to have Unknown Great Player #1 defeat Unknown Great Player #2, 7-5, in the championship set.

This is why I questioned myself up above about whether McEnroe was the #1 55-and-over player in the world right now; I don't think he is. In fact, I think there may be two people his age WHO RECENTLY LIVED IN THE WASHINGTON, DC AREA who could take him down right now: Richey Reneberg (age 49), and John Austin (age 57). I simply do not have a perspective of knowing whether McEnroe is *so good* that he can beat every 55-and-over player in the world, but my impression, watching things today, is that: no, he could not. (I have friends who would know, and I could ask them if people wish.) At this age group, it becomes a battle of survival, and it's survival of the fittest - there are many marathon runners and triathletes who are nationally ranked in the older age groups, and they weren't even tennis players in their youth. McEnroe was not trying towards the end when it was a "close" set, and neither was Roddick - Roddick netted a couple easy, low-pressure forehands that were so painfully easy that they literally made me cringe. These shots were flubbed (needless to say, my impression of this "tournament" changed, the longer I watched it - it's really just an old-timers game, where the players are just there to bring back childhood memories for the fans, who are watching their heroes). Looking back, I can't take it seriously that McEnroe actually defeated James Blake, who is only 35 years old, for Pete's sake, and who is still in fine condition. Ugh - these spectacles may be fun for other people, but they aren't for me, at least not in the long term. It was amazing to watch McEnroe going toe-to-toe with Blake for awhile, but when it became obvious that Blake wasn't pushing himself, I began to feel like I was watching professional wrestling or roller derby.

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As part of the Team Tennis season, the NY Sportimes designated one home match per season as a benefit match &, for the additional cost of the tickets, they included a "special match" of the sort you're describing. "Arranged" is a good term for it. In consecutive seasons, I got to see Mac take on Borg and then Agassi. All 3 of them played very well & were very entertaining. But the play was of a very different caliber than even the quals. of the U.S. Open.

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"McEnroe Says End of Competitive Tennis Near for Him" on si.com

This takes away nothing from the legend; it just means age caught up with him, and he doesn't want to play the charade any more.

If you look at Roddick right now, he doesn't look much different (if any) than the Roddick that was on the pro tour less than three years ago. I'm sure if Nadal was sending him side-to-side, things would be different, but he hits the ball every bit as hard as he used to, and he looks young and fit.

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I just caught a couple of games between Mac and James Blake.  My rough impression was that it was pure exhibition and the competitiveness was faked.  Blake had to have slowed his game.   Mac does look like the Mac of old in style with his unique service game and flat strokes and it does bring back memories of his unique game albeit....of an old Mac.   So much better to watch that style when he was in his prime playing others in their prime.

After watching a bit I can only think that Serena Williams would kill Mac now in a competitive match.   She rules the women's game with power, speed, and skill.  He is near 60 and plays at a speed that reflects his age.

"just wanted to add that I happened to see this while at a bar eating lunch, and recalled the thread above".   Honestly watching an old McEnroe was "less than enthralling".  His "style" is entirely reminiscent of how he appeared so many decades ago;  after all he did have a very unique "lefty look" to his serves and game along with a unique flat stroke.

But boy...it was watching a guy in his latter 50's, with all the slowness, lack of quickness, lack of power reflective of his age.  Nothing at all entrancing about it.   Its McEnroe, but its not the John McEnroe whose game was once so compelling, nor should it be.

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