John McEnroe hits a volley at the Kings of Tennis
John McEnroe believes that his old rival Bjorn Borg inspired him to his best tennis in 10 years as he overwhelmed Thomas Muster to reach the final in Stockholm.
Borg was watching from courtside as McEnroe beat Muster 6-2, 6-2. The American will now meet Magnus Larsson in the final of the Kings of Tennis by Index International on Friday. Larsson edged past Stefan Edberg 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 to preserve his unbeaten record in the round-robin stages.
For the 53-year-old McEnroe, victory over Muster continued one of the most satisfying weeks of his 16-year ATP Champions Tour career. He has beaten Pat Cash, Mikael Pernfors and now Muster without losing a set. To thrash the 44-year-old former World No.1 Muster, who recently chiselled himself into extraordinary shape and made an 18-month return to the ATP World Tour to test himself against teenagers and 20-somethings, it was an incredible achievement. McEnroe was a very happy man.
“The last time I played this well was ten years ago," he said. "In a way I’m playing even better than I was then. So if I can just keep the body in good shape and keep hitting it well then hopefully I'll be in with a shot (against Larsson). I worked hard to get ready for this tournament, every match gets tougher and four in a row is going to be tough, especially against Magnus. I’ll need some luck in the final I think but I felt like I was playing great today. I kept the pressure on and I was hitting the ball about as hard as I can hit it and I was taking the ball early and using the court well. The ball stays low on this court and it takes the slice well so that suits my game.”
His good friend Borg, with whom McEnroe last year launched an underwear line, was an absorbed spectator throughout. McEnroe admitted that he was a little more motivated than usual.
“It felt strange but really nice too," he said of having Borg in the crowd. "It felt strange because he was my greatest rival but I feel like my energy and effort level went a little higher because I still want to impress him.”
Against Larsson, McEnroe will be giving away 12 years, but the manner in which he is playing this year gives him a chance.
Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner. After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in the final.
After Stockholm, The ATP Champions Tour moves on to Zurich, Switzerland for the third annual BNP Paribas Zurich Open (March 20-24). The event will feature Marat Safin, Tim Henman and Delray Beach Champion, Carlos Moya.
Round robin results and group standings
Tuesday, 13th March, 2012
Magnus Larsson d. Goran Ivanisevic 6-7(12), 7-6(6), 10-3
Stefan Edberg d. Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-1
Thomas Muster d. Mikael Pernfors 7-5, 6-2
John McEnroe d. Pat Cash 7-5, 6-4
Wednesday 14th March, 2012
Magnus Larsson d. Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-3
Thomas Muster d. Pat Cash 3-6, 7-6(3), 13-11
John McEnroe d. Mikael Pernfors 6-4, 6-2
Goran Ivanisevic d. Stefan Edberg 6-4, 6-2
Thursday 15th March, 2012
Goran Ivanisevic d. Wayne Ferreira 6-4, 6-4
Pat Cash d. Mikael Pernfors W/O
John McEnroe d. Thomas Muster 6-2, 6-2
Magnus Larsson d. Stefan Edberg 3-6, 6-2, 10-8
- GROUP A
Magnus Larsson 3-0 (6-2)
- Goran Ivanisevic 2-1 (5-2)
- Stefan Edberg 1-2 (3-4)
- Wayne Ferreira 0-3 (0-6)
John McEnroe 3-0 (6-0)
Thomas Muster 2-1 (4-3)
Pat Cash 1-2 (1-4)
Mikael Pernfors 0-3 (0-4)
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