US Open Conference Call with John & Patrick McEnroe

Tennis

US Open Conference Call with John & Patrick McEnroe

ESPN tennis analysts John and Patrick McEnroe spoke with media Friday to discuss the upcoming US Open.  Highlights of the call and a full transcript follow.

Soundbites

On:  Coaching Milos Raonic while working for ESPN.

  • “Milos has two coaches. I came in in an advisory role before Wimbledon. He’s got a great team around him. I think it’s best and easiest at this point, this week I was with him, but having thought about it, and for Milos’ sake, for ESPN and my sake, I think it’s best that we stop right now doing what we’re doing.” – John

 

On:  The Roof

  • I think the atmosphere is going to be absolutely awesome. New York is already electric as it is. But you get a night match, you get the roof closed, personally I can’t wait for that to happen to see what that’s going to feel like.” – Patrick

 

  • You get significantly less wind. So I think that the level of play is going to be much easier for the players to play their best. The only catch is going to be the shade. The roof is so big that there’s times of the day where that shade is going to come across and be very tricky…That’s going to make life a little bit tricky for the players.  I think generally you’re going to hear that the players, both women and men, are going to love it I think.” – John

On:  Handicapping the women’s field…which is Serena and the field.

  • But as has been the case for the last couple years, other than Serena, there hasn’t really been a legit No. 2 player. Halep is another one, got to the French Open final a couple years ago. I think Kerber has done the best as far as winning a major. Muguruza I think has the most ability physically, but she can be mentally a little suspect. I think that’s where Kerber has improved a lot. I think it’s fairly open.” – Patrick
  • Yeah, I think (Serena’s) vulnerable…I’ve heard mixed things about her shoulder. I’m not sure if she’s a hundred percent. But if anyone saw her play at Wimbledon, see her once she gets going, to me if she plays up to her ability, she’s going to win this…from the little I’ve seen, she doesn’t seem to be serving with the same pop. Her serve really went off in the Olympics. That would lead me to believe that something’s there.” – John

On:  Can Andy Murray win it?

  • I look at what he did on clay this year as amazing. He was an okay clay court player. Then this year he really turned it to another level and became one of the best clay court players in the world this year. I think that really helped him do what he’s been able to do the last couple of months, both at Wimbledon and the Olympics. I think that gave him a lot more confidence. Also, because of that, because of how well he played on clay, now he’s got a chance to take over No. 1.” – Patrick

Q- John, what do you think when people say maybe you shouldn’t be calling the Raonic matches because you’re a coach?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I think there’s been a discussion obviously. Milos had a great run at Wimbledon. Considering he was 0-7 going into the potential quarter with Novak, and the way Novak was playing, it didn’t look like that would even become an issue. But it ended up becoming an issue at Wimbledon.

The fact that it had reactions to me is a good thing, and hopefully will see that in a positive way. To make life easier, because I’ve been doing commentary a long time, Milos is a great kid, but I like to think I have a good relationship with the other players, and they hopefully respect what I have to say and my opinion.

Milos has two coaches. I came in in an advisory role before Wimbledon. He’s got a great team around him. I think it’s best and easiest at this point, this week I was with him, but having thought about it, and for Milos’ sake, for ESPN and my sake, I think it’s best that we stop right now doing what we’re doing.

So when the US Open starts on Monday, he’s got his people. I’m pulling for him and want him to do well. I’d love to see all the guys play their best because I think it’s better for tennis. But it’s best to sort of separate at this stage. It will just make life easier for everyone.

Q. Does that mean you’re ending your relationship with him or you would resume it after the Open?
JOHN McENROE: I don’t know the answer. I like Milos a lot. He’s a great young man. It’s been fun to sort of get in the mix a little bit. It’s never something that I anticipated. I’ve had people sometimes ask me over the years, Well, why haven’t you done this before? I don’t have a great answer. I’ve had a tennis academy for six years. I love to work with kids. Anytime I’ve been asked in the past, whether it’s been with people over in England or Scotland talking about Andy, Would you be interested? Obviously the top players, guys that you think can win majors, you feel like you could make a tiny bit of difference, be part of something to help a person get to their potential, it would be exciting to think about.

But I’ve had a great run and a fun run. There’s nothing like playing. But the next best thing is being part of it as the commentator. That’s allowed me connection to the big ones that I didn’t know I’d have years ago. That’s been great. I don’t want to lose that.  I don’t know the answer to that. I know that it’s best that, whoever it is, I don’t get involved in the major events. I have a tennis academy year-round. If Novak Djokovic – I’m throwing out a name, he hasn’t said this – he says, I want to come and train for a week in November. What am I going to say? No? It would be amazing for the kids and amazing for me. It would be incredible for New York if someone like that did that.

If Milos wanted to come for a week in October, November and work, that would be to me, like, an incredible thing. So I’m open to the possibility of it. But I think at this particular time it makes life easier not to continue it.  I’m not sure, would be the honest answer.

Q. John, you mentioned you had spent time with Milos this week. Could you characterize what that was like. I also was wondering what you thought of him not participating in the Olympics to focus on trying to win his first Grand Slam.
JOHN McENROE: I’ve had mixed feelings. Obviously when you watch an Olympic event, you see someone get a medal, you wish you could be a part of that. I’ll answer your second part first.  I had mixed feelings and passed on the first Olympics that came back in 1988 actually. I didn’t feel like it was right at that time for professional tennis, and I’m still not sure.  I can certainly see both sides of the argument, how it can be amazing, and how it’s gotten in certain ways too professional. It seems to have lost some of the spirit of the sport.

In addition to that, with tennis in particular, when you have four majors a year, you have such a crowded schedule, it makes it very tricky for the players. I certainly respect Andy, for example, being able to go to Wimbledon. He pulled out of Davis Cup, didn’t play there. Novak didn’t play Davis Cup. That’s an event that used to mean something in tennis.

Not to get totally off the subject for a second, but that’s part of why the other day I was involved in something called the Laver Cup. I idolize Rod Laver. I think it’s an idea that Davis Cup should have done decades ago, do something like Ryder Cup, have a weekend where you bring the best of the best together.  We should be looking for ways to bring the sport to more people and to make it as exciting as possible and to add people’s interest, et cetera.

As far as Milos, that’s his decision. For him, he’s a big guy. He works extremely hard. He’s very dedicated. He’s trying to bridge the gap between him and the top, cream of the crop, those top four guys that have had such amazing records, as well as other players. They’ve all been trying to do that. People have teams.  I think having been around a little bit, I can see the effort of Milos. He was in Europe a long time in the clay court season. He was over in London for five weeks. He got to the finals. Toronto has obviously a little extra meaning for him than it would for other players because he’s from there, grew up there. You have an event the week after, then you have the US Open, which of course is what the top players, all of them, want to try to be ready for. So that made it a tougher decision than it had to be.  It’s unfortunate. I’m sure even Milos has some mixed feelings. I’m sure a part of him wanted to be there. Ultimately he made that decision. Some of it, obviously people are afraid of certain things, like the Zika thing. Didn’t seem to be an issue. Hopefully it won’t be for anyone.  There were a lot of things that went into it.

Q. What was your relationship with Milos this week and since Wimbledon? Have you had conversations about your future at all? You sort of answered it, but I’m not quite sure.
JOHN McENROE: Right now, for example, when we originally talked, the idea was to try to before be at Wimbledon. Milos and I have some of the same acquaintances in the New York area, some of the same friends. That makes it easier to have a relationship. It’s nice when you have someone that’s less than half my age, that you feel like you can have a friendship and a respect with. From that standpoint alone, I’ve enjoyed spending time with him. I think that he’s a guy, I respect him a lot because he goes out and he says, I want to be the best, which automatically puts a target on your head. A lot of other players shy away and don’t do everything they can. So he tries to do that. He tries to put together the best team he can.

Look, you know, Roger Federer is arguably the greatest player that ever lived. Nadal is right there. Djokovic. Murray is playing the best tennis of his life. All these players that are below these guys, in my opinion, should and hopefully will be doing everything they can, including the young guys, to find a way to get in that mix and be part of that.

The other day, I mentioned Rod Laver, I was sitting next to Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Rod Laver. That to me was amazing to be in the same room with those guys. So I’m sure Milos would like to be in the same room or close to that level where he could win some majors and be talked about in the same breath as some of these players.

Q. John, you mentioned a little bit ago you would like to see different things happen to bring in more fans. A recent New York Times article wrote about Nick Kyrgios. One of the points was someone like him, it mentioned you as well, but someone like him is a bit of a personality, can stir up drama, can bring in casual fans. Do you think that helps in terms of bringing in more fans, having drama in the men’s game, having a controversial figure like Nick Kyrgios? Do you think tennis needs that?
JOHN McENROE: I think tennis needs a lot of things. I think we should be looking outside the box on a regular basis.  I think Nick Kyrgios potentially could be a huge positive. He’s made some boneheaded decisions and moves. He’s kind of been out and not competed in huge moments, which I find inexplicable to support and unable to.  He’s extremely talented. He’s one of the most talented young men I’ve seen in quite a while. It would be nice to see him put it all together.  Yes, he does have personality. If you know my history, which you may know a little bit, I’m certainly the type of guy that would believe that expressing yourself, showing your personality, people get an interest, good or bad, it’s a good thing for any one-on-one sport.

Tennis, we’ve had a lot of success in the past, not much recently in the men’s game. The last guy was Roddick. He won the 2003, I think, US Open. So it’s been quite a while. Then we were pretty spoiled.  Now the game is at a point where you see perhaps the greatest tennis we’ve ever seen, yet the interest level is not the same in tennis. Even if we were doing better, I still think we owe it to the sport to try to think of ways to make the game as exciting as possible and get more people to watch it.  For example, I’ve been saying this for years. I think a tiebreaker in the fifth set, which is played at only the US Open, would be a no-brainer for me, because the attention span of people generally is a lot less than it used to be. These are the types of things that at the very least we should be doing stuff like that.

Q. You’ve talked about the men’s game. Talk about where you see the women’s game right now heading into the US Open. Do you think Serena is vulnerable right now? Are a couple of players capable of knocking her out?
PATRICK McENROE: I think the women’s game at the moment, if you look at the fact that Serena’s obviously got some question marks about her shoulder, you look at what’s happened this year, you could certainly make the case that the women’s field is more wide open than the men’s field.  I think Djokovic and Murray are certainly two clear-cut favorites. I wouldn’t say that there’s other players, other than Serena, that are clear-cut. Obviously Kerber has had a great year, winning the Australian, getting in the finals of Wimbledon, finals of the Olympics. She’d probably be the second favorite. But you look at Muguruza, you look at Kerber, Kvitova who has dropped a little bit. There’s some other players there that could make a run.

But as has been the case for the last couple years, other than Serena, there hasn’t really been a legit No. 2 player. Halep is another one, got to the French Open final a couple years ago. I think Kerber has done the best as far as winning a major. Muguruza I think has the most ability physically, but she can be mentally a little suspect. I think that’s where Kerber has improved a lot.  I think it’s fairly open. Obviously if Serena plays her best, we all know she’s the favorite. But considering not only her shoulder but also the fact that she’s 34 or 35 now, to me it makes it all the more amazing what she did over the last couple of years. I think she’s just showing her age a little bit, that she’s human, that she’s not going to be able to dominate the way she did last year.

Q. John, do you think she’s vulnerable?
JOHN McENROE: Yeah, I think she’s vulnerable. She’s still Serena Williams. She wants to break Steffi’s record. I don’t know the status. I’ve heard mixed things about her shoulder. I’m not sure if she’s a hundred percent. But if anyone saw her play at Wimbledon, see her once she gets going, to me if she plays up to her ability, she’s going to win this.  She’s been successful in the past not playing many matches and still winning. But she hasn’t obviously played almost any matches since Wimbledon. In addition to that, it looks at least so far, from the little I’ve seen, she doesn’t seem to be serving with the same pop. Her serve really went off in the Olympics. That would lead me to believe that something’s there. That’s the most dependable shot in the history of the women’s game.  Yeah, I would say she would be vulnerable more so than she has been for quite a while.

Q. Cliff was talking about the slice backhand, how important it’s become in the game. Del Potro showed us that. How much do you think it is a factor for the guys? Who has the best one-handed backhand? Federer has it. I think we see Steve Johnson use it as well. Just talk a little bit about that shot and its potency in the game of today.
JOHN McENROE: Well, I love the slice backhand. I used that quite extensively when I came in. To think it would go away I think would be crazy. I think especially with bigger guys, if you can hit through the slice, keep it low, it’s problematic for them to get down low for the ball. So to me it’s a very effective shot.  You notice even the two-handers have improved quite a bit. Nadal, obviously. Murray always had a good one. Djokovic has gotten a lot better. Roger’s slice is arguably better than his topspin backhand.  It’s clearly a shot that can reset you, it can do a lot of things. You try to get in the guy’s head, you try to use it in certain situations. So to me, of course, absolutely. No guy wants to be predictable where you know what he’s going to give you. So even if you can hit the ball harder than anyone, at times you have to mix it up, unless you can absolutely blow a hundred mile an hour fastball by someone every time.

Del Potro you mentioned, he’s doing it more out of necessity. I think he’s still afraid I think of his left wrist. He doesn’t feel like he can come over and attack it. Some of it’s probably mental. I’m sure he feels the same way. So that’s been an issue. He’s certainly gotten better. But you can’t rely just on it either. You look at him and you say, Wow, that slice backhand is really good. The fact that he really can’t put a whole lot on it, it probably certainly has hindered his ability mentally and physically to come back. That’s why his ranking is still down.  Of course, if you watched him at the Olympics, and I hope he gets healthier because I’m a fan of him and I’d like to see him back where he belongs, which I think is back in the top 10.

PATRICK McENROE: I’ll quickly follow up and say I think it’s almost become a necessity for the top players in the men’s game to have a good slice backhand. I think back to Mats Wilander when he beat Lendl in the US Open final. To me at least in the modern era, he was the best player with a great two-handed backhand that developed a slice.  When I see young kids playing now, a lot of them that have great two-handed backhands, like the guys mentioned, Djokovic and Murray are two, they have pretty darn good slices that they can use to change the pace and approach, et cetera, and defend. Defending is probably as important as any other part of the game at the highest level of the men’s game. I think it’s almost become a necessary shot for the top players that have even great two-handed backhands.

Q. A random question. This is very much out of left field. I’m wondering where and when and how important it was for you to get your hair cut when you were on tour?
JOHN McENROE: That wasn’t real high on the level of importance.

Q. So, John, only when you were back in Queens or where and when?
JOHN McENROE: You know, I didn’t have any like spot that I had to do it initially the first 20 years or so in Queens. Then after that it’s like a potpourri of areas. Sometimes you could do it because you had to do something that had nothing to do with tennis, like you did a shoot for Nike, for example. At least with me, that’s where I’d end up. I don’t think it ever came some sort of superstition.

PATRICK McENROE: What was the name of the barber our mom took us to?

JOHN McENROE: Don. What was his name? I don’t remember his last name.

PATRICK McENROE: (Indiscernible) golf range.

JOHN McENROE: Exactly. We’ll call mom up. If you really need his name, we’ll get it.

PATRICK McENROE: Paid eight, seven bucks maybe.

Q. When you were on the tour, there were no at-tournament barbers, I’m guessing?
JOHN McENROE: That’s been a perk more recently.

Q. This is the first time in history that we’ve had joint No. 1’s that have each held the top ranking for over 100 weeks. It’s crunch time for Serena this week. Andy Murray is starting to nip at Djokovic’s heels. Can you comment on these No. 1’s, and how important do you think it is for the psyche of players to hold the No. 1 ranking?
JOHN McENROE: Well, obviously when you hold it, you’ve reached the top of the mountain. Of course, the other side of the coin is that – I’ll speak for myself – you’re looking over your shoulder. I wasn’t able to relax and enjoy it as much as I could.  Getting to the top is perhaps less stressful and more exciting. Maintaining it is extremely rewarding and you’re very proud of it. But that can also add more and more pressure as time goes on.  Of course, there’s incentives, especially nowadays, for players to remain at that level, finish the year at No. 1, bonuses and things from all types of sponsors. There’s that, as well.  So you combine all these things with just the pride of wanting to do it. They’ve prepared themselves and they have these teams now that you feel like they’re as prepared as they’ve ever been to be able to maintain something like that.

You look at Novak. I saw something from his press conference today where he said physically he was okay at Wimbledon, but something was going on personally. You can see how that can change the momentum of the whole year in a way. All of a sudden it looked like he was on his way potentially to the Grand Slam, had won four in a row. Now we’re here at the Open and we’re talking as if Murray is playing the best tennis of everyone.  The moment Novak lost, it sort of lifted him and things have shifted a little bit. It just shows you how little it takes.  Players are always on their toes. But they have to expect things like that to happen. The key is to sort of regroup as quickly as possible and to be able to maintain that ranking as long as possible.

Serena’s case is different. To me, she doesn’t play as many events as the other women. That puts automatically more pressure on the big events because she has to have better results because she’s only got a handful of them. I think the last couple years with Patrick as her coach, she’s played more. That’s probably helped her. But now recently when she lost the Open trying to go for the slam, that hit her pretty hard mentally. She didn’t play since Australia. Now she hasn’t played much at all since Wimbledon.  That makes it where you’re almost sort of giving it up in a way. It’s going to go away whether you like it or not when you play as little as she has.

PATRICK McENROE: I think Serena’s almost offended if she’s not No. 1. It’s like her right. Even those years when she was working her way back and she wasn’t No. 1, it didn’t feel right.  So I think for her I would say it’s probably even a bigger deal. Djokovic has been so good the last couple years that it hasn’t really even been in question that he would stay No. 1 until this last month, with Murray winning Wimbledon. It’s too bad Murray didn’t get points for the Olympics because that would have helped. So he’s actually got a shot in the second half of the year, the last third of the year, to get to No. 1, which hasn’t been the case for a while.  It’s a different dynamic. I think there’s no doubt that Djokovic spent many years chasing. I think that is all the more reason he wants to keep No. 1 and also win more majors because he spent much of his early years chasing down Federer and Nadal.

Q. Do you feel the prestige of the No. 1 ranking is the same as it always was or has it been tainted by the slam-less No. 1’s we had a few years ago on the WTA side?
JOHN McENROE: Me personally, I think maybe things have changed. Depends on the player. But to me the most important thing was who was No.1 at the end of the year. That to me was huge.  Now, obviously, the majors, when I started playing, top guys weren’t even playing Australia. Now it appears they’re focusing more, they want both obviously, but they’re focusing more and counting their Grand Slam titles, potentially worrying how many weeks they’re at No. 1.  I was a little bit different. I actually took great pride and would try to figure out a way where if I didn’t do well, as well as I would have liked, win majors, to still try to get to No. 1, still do enough, even if you won one.  I suppose it depends on the person.

Q. Could you talk about the new roof up on the stadium, what impact that might have. If it rains, obviously it will keep it dry, but how it will impact how the players are playing. I know you have an affinity for doubles. If you could talk about the Bryan brothers. We don’t talk about their era, but they’ve had a long run and are still going strong.
JOHN McENROE: I’ll answer the first one and Patrick can answer the second.  We’ve long wanted – ‘we’ being the players – anytime you have the stress of playing a slam, I think it’s pretty nice, and as a commentator watching, it’s amazing because you know on Sunday at 4:00, whatever, you’re going to be playing. So I always wanted that as a player. We didn’t have that security. I often talked about wanting an indoor major. So I think that’s great.  I think the level of play is going to be higher. I was in there three or four days ago on the court when Milos was hitting. You notice it even when they started building it. You get significantly less wind. So I think that the level of play is going to be much easier for the players to play their best.

The only catch is going to be the shade. The roof is so big that there’s times of the day where that shade is going to come across and be very tricky. At 11:00 in the morning, I remember stepping on the court three or four days ago, half the court was bright sunlight and half the court was completely shaded. That shifted obviously as the minutes went along. That’s going to make life a little bit tricky for the players.  I think generally you’re going to hear that the players, both women and men, are going to love it I think.

PATRICK McENROE: I would quickly follow up. I agree with all that. I think the X factor particularly in New York is going to be the atmosphere. I think the atmosphere is going to be absolutely awesome.  New York is already electric as it is. But you get a night match, you get the roof closed, personally I can’t wait for that to happen to see what that’s going to feel like.  Obviously John is a hundred percent right about the lack of wind. New York, the US Open center court, traditionally has been certainly the windiest, especially how big it is. It’s almost like a tunnel down there, like a wind tunnel. That’s going to be a huge factor. But the think the atmosphere is going to be really cool to see.

As far as the Bryan brothers go, they’ve struggled a bit for them this year. They haven’t won a major. They lost a big match in Davis Cup. They’re 38, I believe, now. They both are married. Bob has three little kids. I think that’s not getting easier for them to keep traveling as much as they do. They’ve really played a lot. They sort of relied on playing a lot.  I hope for their sake that they can find a balance of maybe not playing quite as much because there’s still plenty of doubles players that are very successful in their 40s. I mean, it’s unbelievable. Daniel Nestor, Leander Paes, Zimonjic. There’s no reason that if the Bryans keep themselves in decent shape, they’ve been diligent about keeping themselves in shape, there’s no reason they can’t play another four or five years if they don’t tap out mentally. That’s the challenge for them now. They play with so much energy, and they need to have that kind of energy to be successful.

Q. A question about Andy Murray. Over the last sort of few years, we’ve seen Djokovic beating everyone, before that Federer and Nadal beating everyone. Now with those guys not playing here, suffering from injuries, being in a different form, do you think it’s Murray’s time in the next year or two to maybe dominate a bit more?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I think Novak is obviously the most obvious obstacle. He’s been playing at a level the last couple years that Murray hasn’t been able to attain. That’s frustrated him.  Things have changed the last couple months. The shock that he lost early at Wimbledon. But to me the level that Novak, it was higher consistently. The bar was higher maybe than anything I’ve ever seen as far as his consistency. There’s a way to go where he would be able to lift it to do what Novak has done the last couple of years and is going to continue to try to do.

Nadal on clay, a French Open, you’re not going to convince me yet the way he was playing leading up, I thought he was getting close to what he was on the clay, that would be an interesting match, to say the least, with Murray. I don’t think Murray would go in as a favorite on that surface against Nadal in a best-of-five.  But he’s playing the best tennis of his life. He seems to have everything in order. He’s in a good space. He wants to get closer to be talked about in the same breath as these three guys that are like three of the five greatest players that ever lived.  So Murray has been meticulous. He’s done a great job. But he’s still got a ways to go to even get close to those guys.

PATRICK McENROE: I think Murray has an opportunity, but he’s never going to get to the level, in my opinion, of those other players, which is not meaning he’s not a great player. He is a great player. He’s got three majors, two Olympic gold medals. I think he’s got the opportunity to win a couple more majors.  I don’t think he has the type of game that can dominate week in, week out for a long period of time the way that those other three guys were able to do. He just doesn’t hit the ball as clean, as early.  I think what’s amazed me about him is to me it takes him even more effort than those other players to be that good because his ball striking is not quite as pure as those other players.

I look at what he did on clay this year as amazing. He was an okay clay court player. Then this year he really turned it to another level and became one of the best clay court players in the world this year. I think that really helped him do what he’s been able to do the last couple of months, both at Wimbledon and the Olympics. I think that gave him a lot more confidence.  Also, because of that, because of how well he played on clay, now he’s got a chance to take over No. 1.

Q. In Novak’s press conference this afternoon, he was talking about his wrist problem, comparing it to del Potro. It was interesting to know what he’s gone through over the last two or so years. How much of a concern is it for Novak Djokovic fans that he’s talking in those kind of terms? John, you mentioned earlier about Novak mentioning other things going on at Wimbledon. Can you talk about how destabilizing that can be and how you turn them around.
JOHN McENROE: I didn’t do a very good job compartmentalizing when I was playing. It’s extremely difficult. Certainly if things are going wrong in your personal life, to me, it made it extremely difficult to get that focus and intensity and will and all the other things you need to bring to the table, preparation, in order to play your best on the court.  That’s something why all players want to feel they have a settled situation off the court, because that allows them to do the thing on the court.

Del Potro, the wrist. Who knows, you know. When you’re outside looking in, and I don’t know the status of his wrist, but if you’re thinking he’s throwing del Potro in there, del Potro has had a nightmare the last three years. It’s been an absolute horror for him. He barely hasn’t been on the court. You’re like, Oh, my God.  Maybe he’s playing rope-a-dope; it’s not that bad. Maybe it’s going to get better and he’s going to play at the level he did at the French Open and Australia and beat everyone again.  It’s unpredictable. Only he knows. Rarely would you announce to the press, Look, I can’t play. I was shocked. I guess people around Rafa when he was hurting a little bit, there were some people in the know a little bit, some of the Spanish players or coaches that knew that he had an issue. But when he defaulted in the third round, I was like, What happened? He looked like he was good the first couple rounds.  This is one that’s difficult to say. He said it just happened training before the Olympics, just before he played, whatever. I had heard absolutely nothing of a wrist problem before that.  He lost first round. Del Potro rose to the occasion, played a great match. Now all of a sudden it makes wheels start turning, I would think, for a lot of other players that may think they have a better shot now.
Q. Players in other sports will do anything not to reveal their injuries, yet we have Nadal being criticized talking about his injuries. Today Djokovic comes out and tells the field that he’s hurting. He even mentioned he’d have some trouble with his backhand. Why would he do that? Is a rope-a-dope case? What do you think of him talking to the press about this injury?
PATRICK McENROE: I’ll just say we get pissed off at players when they don’t say anything, say the usual stuff in a press conference. In this case, you look at Nadal especially, he’s been a guy that’s been pretty open about whether it’s his confidence or issues.  I mean, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. Tennis is such an individual sport obviously that there’s other injury reports in other sports, et cetera. We don’t have that in tennis. If you’re having trouble with your wrist, basically everyone is going to find out anyway. Once you get on the court, it’s going to be pretty obvious. There’s nowhere to run, there’s nowhere to hide once you get out on the tennis court.

I don’t really make too much of that. I don’t look at Djokovic as a guy who is looking to make excuses if he loses. He’s been pretty darn good. I don’t think you could say that’s part of it. Sometimes we suspect that some players are sort of throwing out an excuse as to why they’re losing.  I think overall it’s really not that big of an issue. Tennis players, once you gut out there, you’re on your own. People are going to see if you’re not at a hundred percent pretty quickly.

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Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and ESPNPressRoom.com, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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