- ESPN’s Exclusive, First Ball to Last Ball Live Coverage Begins Monday, July 2
- Primary Topics: American Men, Serena, Enduring Greatness of Federer & Nadal, The Prospects of Djokovic, Brits & Canadians, and Their Personal Favorite Moments in the Open Era
ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe spoke with media today, previewing Wimbledon. ESPN’s exclusive coverage – from first ball to last ball – begins Monday, July 2. See here for more details. Here is the transcript.
- I’m curious about the American men going into this tournament. It’s been a long drought. Is this the year that American men could hoist the trophy? Could you look at Querrey and Isner, their games coming into this tournament?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I’d say somewhat inexplicably for a guy that serves as big as Isner, he’s really had poor results. I’m looking at his draw. He’s got as good a draw as I’ve seen him have. I’ve never seen any indication. Why, I can’t give you a good answer. I know his movement is an issue. His return of serve has been an issue. He has about as good an opportunity to make a run. I don’t think he’s ever been in the second week of Wimbledon, much less getting to a quarters or semis. It’s about as good an opportunity as he’s going to have.Sam’s draw is tougher. I’m looking, he has a much trickier road to even get to what he did last year. He has to go through some pretty solid grass court players. That would be a tall order to do what he did last year.As far as the young guys, I think still they’ve got a ways to go in terms of figuring out what they can do to max out their game, Tiafoe, finding the comfort level, Donaldson among others. I think Opelka, I don’t see his name, he must have lost early in the quallies.
We’re still like a work in progress with the young guys. The older veteran guys like Jack Sock, he hasn’t been playing with any confidence for a while. I’m not quite sure what’s happened with him. But considering I think he thinks grass is his least favorite surface, even though I think he could play on grass and do well, I haven’t seen any indication from him that he believes he has much of a shot either at this point.
Q. If you had to pick one to go the deepest, would you say Isner because of the draw?
JOHN McENROE: With the draw I’d say Isner. Sam is the most confident, plays the best on the grass. From what I see, he has the toughest draw of any American.
Q. Roger and Rafa have combined to win the last six straight slams. Will that continue at Wimbledon? If not, who is most likely? If you were coaching Nick Kyrgios, what would you encourage for him to maximize his potential here?
JOHN McENROE: How much time do we have? I thought this was only like 45 minutes or an hour (laughter).
Nick to me is the most talented tennis player of the last 10 years I’ve seen, since Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, Federer. He’s an incredible talent. As far as mentally, I haven’t been around him much. I haven’t seen much of him. I’ve tried to reach out to him. I haven’t spoken to him. But it looks like at least he’s healthy because he’s been battling some issues with I believe his elbow and shoulder. Certainly he’s one of the most dangerous guys. He’d be one of the six, eight guys.
I don’t know what his physical condition is at this point. He didn’t play any of the clay court events. He missed out on a lot of the hard court ones. My guess would be it would be tough considering mentally and physically for him to be able to go all the way.
As far as coaching, I don’t believe in saying what exactly I would do without having spent some time. He’s got some issues with that fear, like everyone, of failure, laying it all out there and coming up a little short. I think that’s what makes Nadal so great. He’s willing to compete and start every match, each match, like he hasn’t played any before. That’s what separates the guys. The guys that are willing to dig in, dig deeper, he’s got to find a way to do that.
As far as who is going to win it, after the other two, it’s difficult to say. There’s a handful of guys. If you had to pick one guy that would position himself, it would probably be Cilic would be the guy that would be best positioned at this point, given what’s gone on over the course of the last six months, since he got to the finals of Australia, and he just won Queen’s. I think he’s positioned himself well. He believes in himself. If you had to pick one other guy besides those two, he might break the streak.
Obviously Novak looks to be heading, we’re all happy, in the right direction. Whether or not he’s ready to go all the way… You have to still consider him with his pedigree and results as a guy. Then it becomes much more of a crapshoot. Is Zverev ready to make that next step. Is Coric for real on grass, because he just came off winning his first-ever grass court event when he had barely won any matches.
After that it becomes even more unpredictable. A big hitter like Anderson, Sam Querrey, Isner, the big guys can cause problems in the draw that would open things up. Milos obviously to me is a guy who can do damage. He’s been battling a lot of health issues, so I don’t know where he’s at.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I’ll talk about Nick a little bit because he’s down in Boca quite a bit. I observe him. The thing about Nick, he is his own person. We can just stand by and marvel at his talent, appreciate the big wins, but expect the big losses, too. This is his temperament.
I don’t know how much you can teach, again, hunger and focus and commitment. I mean, you can encourage it, but until it gets into his persona, until it gets into his conscience and his heart, we’re not going to see the best of Nick Kyrgios. It’s just the way he is.
Again, it’s very often that the most talented players, when things come very easy to them, sometimes mentally they’re not as tough because they don’t have to be. It’s the grinders that have to work harder that are sometimes mentally tougher. He’s got to find that desire and that hunger inside himself.
Q. Chrissie, can you talk a little bit about Serena. She seems to be very focused.
CHRISSIE EVERT: Serena, listen, it’s her best surface. It’s the surface that her game is suited for, with the power, the big serves. She’s going to win some free points. It’s going to be easier for her on the grass than it was on the clay, where she had to really grind it out.
I would say with Serena, thinking about this, what chance do I give for her to win the tournament, I give her as much chance as anybody else because the field is completely open. I don’t even know who the favorite is. I don’t know if the favorite is Halep, Muguruza or Kvitova or Serena? I give all those women the exact same chance to win this tournament.
It remains to be seen. She has really embraced motherhood to the maximum. I’m surprised that it hasn’t taken the edge away a little bit because I know when I had my first child, I just didn’t want to do anything else in life. This is Serena, and she does the unimaginable, the unpredictable. You can never count her out.
If she’s healthy, which she obviously wasn’t at the French, and if she’s focused, she could play her way into this. I was looking at her first couple rounds, they’re okay. Then she would get Svitolina in the third round. She needs matches. She needs to win a couple rounds, get confident, get that serve going, get that movement going.
Nothing is for sure. Nothing is for sure.
Q. John, can you talk a little bit more about Rafa. It seems like the draw might be more favorable to him this year. He doesn’t have the big explosive player, but more clay-courters past the first few rounds.
JOHN McENROE: Yeah, with Rafa you never know here. But I’m looking right now, and the only guy I’m looking at that potentially is that type of player, is Mischa Zverev. He’s a serve-volleyer. That would be a third round match. Other than that, all the way to the quarters, he’s got as beautiful a draw as you could ask for on this surface. Then he’s got a bunch of people, like who is going to come out of this section with Shapovalov, Andy Murray, del Potro? He’s only going to have to play one of those guys, it appears. That’s a good thing for him.
Sock is also there, it looks like. Goffin is there. Out of those five people, he’s only got to play one of those five people. So this is as good as he can hope for. When he gets to the second week and things slow down a little bit on the grass, you would have to say, okay, the chances are getting better. If there was an opportunity for him to go deep, it’s definitely this year, there’s no question.
Q. Should we think Roger comes in a little tentative because of the loss recently?
JOHN McENROE: I saw some of the match. I didn’t see much of it. I think he would alter his game plan were he to play him again in the fourth or quarters. That’s assuming Coric gets there.
It looks to me like I think he was probably at that point, and I’m just guessing, but Coric is a guy that I’m hoping will become the type of player — I think he would alter his game plan a little bit. I think he’d be more aggressive than what I saw. I didn’t see the whole match. But I think, again, he’s got the potential of playing like a Karlovic. Karlovic is 39 now, I believe. Could he muster it up for long enough time in the third round. It looks to me like he’s pretty well positioned. When you don’t play for three months, even Roger, you play nine matches in less than two weeks. So to me I’m guessing he was a little bit mentally and physically, like, vulnerable, a little bit more than normal. Then he has a week off. I think that was a great preparation.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I think it was almost better that he lost to Coric. He can feel a little bit more desire when a top player loses. Top players aren’t going to lose to the same player twice in a row.
Q. Wimbledon and the US Open, our two biggest tournaments, are celebrating their anniversary at Open tournaments. Talk about the two most special moments of impactful or fun moments you’ve had in all your years as players.
JOHN McENROE: Let me answer, because it’s easy for me with Wimbledon. 1980, obviously, the Borg match. Probably similar the year that I won. I lost that match, but I came back and beat Lendl, Connors and Borg in the ’80 Open.
From a personal standpoint, I would say that Super Saturday. That brings us all into it, the whole nine yards. That seemed to spark talk that we hadn’t heard much before. It seemed to maybe bring hopefully the Open to a bigger level. So for me personally, I’d have to say those two.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I think for the US Open for me, since I’m an American, it’s not one specific match, it’s every time I walked out on stadium court. I felt the support and I felt the excitement. Even though the US Open is at the end of the year and everybody is starting to get tired, it was very for me motivating and very inspirational, to be an American to step out on the stadium court.
It’s a feeling I never felt in any other torment in the world. It’s being American. There’s just a lot of patriotism. As John would tell you, he was a favorite, Jimmy was a favorite, I think I was, Billie Jean. They just embraced the American players. I would say that for the US Open.
Wimbledon? Oh, Wimbledon. Again, the thing about Wimbledon for me is I feel that everyone seems to think my greatest achievements happened on clay at the French, winning seven times. I feel like the grass is such a challenge for my game, for my style. Those three wins meant more to me than anything, I think than any other title, because I had to compromise and I had to tweak my game and I had to figure out how to make some changes, be more aggressive. I think just the mind frame and the growth I had to have, changes I had to make when I walked out and played on the grass. That made that tournament very special to me.
Q. John, a monumental win over Connors on Super Saturday, late at night. What is the moment that a great victory feels like for a champion? What goes through your mind?
JOHN McENROE: In that particular case, obviously there were two great matches before me. Also even though it was extremely satisfying to pull that off, it was 11:20 at night, I believe, and I had to play at 4:00 the next day. I wasn’t able to sort of enjoy that the way I would have normally liked to.
I knew at the time it just felt people were buzzing, there was an energy, there was a feeling about the whole day that you could sense. That was something that made me ultimately — I mean, I could tell right away that was a moment that was going to be to some degree etched in time.
I learned a lot from Connors because he made me compete harder and try harder, find another gear. From that respect, it was seeing the guy that gave so much, sort of the Nadal of our time, that gave so much with effort, to be able to match that to a degree was something that made me very proud at that time.
Q. Chrissie, Genie Bouchard made the final at Wimbledon in 2014. This year she had to go through the qualifications. Do you think it would be beneficial for her to go back to that process? What do you expect from her this week?
CHRISSIE EVERT: Did they put the qualifiers in the draw? Who does she play first round? I’m looking at this.
Q. She’s playing Gabriella Taylor from the UK.
CHRISSIE EVERT: She’s 44 in the draw. She plays a wild card, Gabriella Taylor.
In answer to your question, it takes a long time to get it back. I don’t know why it’s taken so long to get a glimpse of even reaching a quarterfinal in a tournament. She obviously has the game. We’ve seen it. We saw it four years ago. I just think it’s a matter of confidence with her because something should have happened by now. If she was really dead set on getting back to the top of the game, something should have happened by now. Maybe 2014 happened too quickly for her. Maybe she wasn’t ready for it mentally and emotionally. Maybe it’s just taken a little bit of time for her to get that maturity level that you need to be a top player. Obviously she’s had a good Wimbledon qualifying. She won a few matches. She’s in the main draw. I think she likes the grass, having reached the final. She has a good feeling about it, a nice confidence about it. I know she’s got a big fan base. I know they would love to see her get it back. She just has to keep her nose to the grindstone, keep playing these tournaments and winning matches. Maybe play some lesser money tournaments, lesser tier tournaments, to gain some match wins. Happy to see her qualify. Again, maybe with the maturity, we’re starting to see some big signs from Genie right now.
Q. John, what are you expecting from Canadian players like Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov this week?
JOHN McENROE: As you’re probably aware, I work with Milos. I still talk with him, pull for him. He’s had a lot of issues the last year and a half with injuries. He just came off one. I’m hoping that he’s feeling good, because when I look at his draw right here, it would be interesting to see him play Cilic in the round of 16, if he were to get to the fourth round. I would like to see that. He has a favorable first couple matches. But it really depends on how he’s feeling in a way, because he hasn’t been able to train as much as he’d like. I think that his confidence level is probably dented a little bit because he hasn’t been playing. He’s having a tough time being healthy.
As far as Denis, I’m a big fan of Denis. Watching him is like in a way watching an 18-year-old like 40 years ago when I was a kid. He’s got an energy, a quickness, and an intensity to him that he’s going to be very successful. He’s already very successful. He’s going to be a great player, I believe. He’s already in the top 30 in the world.
If I had to pick a guy who had arguably the toughest draw in the entire draw, it could be him. Just looking through his draw right now, he’s got a guy Chardy, he’s a veteran, tough. Murray, I don’t know exactly where he’s at, but that would be a second round match. To play del Potro or Lopez in the third round, that would only get him to the fourth round. He’s got his work cut out for him in this particular event.
Q. It looks like Andy Murray is going to play Wimbledon. I wondered what you have made of him so far, what you’ve seen, and what do you feel are his prospects for Wimbledon and looking further ahead in his career?
JOHN McENROE: Well, obviously it appears that he’s moving pretty well. I’ve only seen a little bit of him. He’s had tough draws both events he’s played. Playing Kyrgios first round ain’t exactly a cakewalk. Then he played Stan to play Edmund, which is weird, because he’s playing the new No. 1, even though we really know that Andy is the No. 1. He lost it because of injury.
I don’t know if he’s even capable or if it’s possible to play seven best-of-five set matches. Roger did it six months ago, that was on a hard court. It would seem possible. He’s by no means got an easy draw either. Knows what he’s doing. Then it would be the Shapovalov draw. Both those guys have extremely tough draws. It would be hard to envision a guy, with that type of draw, go really deep into an event.
As far as the future, if he’s healthy, his hip is okay, I would expect to see him back in the top 5 within a period of time. He’s basically lost his complete ranking more or less, so he’d have to work his way back. I would suspect we would certainly see him back in the mix if he’s healthy.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I think right now you see a smile on his face. It’s just great to see him back. It’s great to see him back in the mix with all the top guys. Great to see him back, his game, his personality. He’s healthy. Very often, again, when a player is forced to leave the game for injuries, you look at past history, everybody has come back. 90% of the players have come back better than ever, stronger than ever, more eager than ever, more inspired than ever, because they really feel like they finally appreciate what they didn’t have. It’s a lesson of life really. I think we’re going to see some good stuff from Andy Murray, but I don’t think we should expect anything too soon at this moment.
Q. John, it’s the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 final between Federer and Nadal. I’d like to hear your memories of that. Were you commentating for it? Looking back on it now, do you still think it’s the best match of all time?
JOHN McENROE: As far as the 2008 match, yeah, I believe there was a rain delay before the match started. I believe there were a couple rain delays during the match. There were all types of things that went on in addition to the quality of the tennis. Then the way it ended where it looked like they couldn’t play another point. You could go on and on.
Roger was up 4-1 in the second, he lost that set. Won the third in a tiebreaker. Saved match points in the fourth set. Looked like they were going to stop at 7-All or 8-All. Flashlights were going all over the place. I think it ended past 9:00. To me, when you’re able to sit back and call a match where you’re basically not saying anything, which I believe was the appropriate response in the fifth set, having seen a lot of matches, let it speak for itself. It was the best match that I’d ever witnessed in terms of the overall quality, the excitement, the unpredictability of it, the way it ended.
That may have been my best call ever, not saying anything (laughter).
Q. Looking back on it now, if someone told you after that final 10 years on they would be the No. 1 and 2 seeds at Wimbledon, what do you think you would have thought?
JOHN McENROE: Well, I think it was pretty evident they were spectacular players. Having said that, 36, approaching 37, what Roger has done is like out of this world. The fact that Novak and Andy I believe were higher in the rankings, looked to be taking over, it looked like these guys were going in the wrong direction, it is unbelievable. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. To me, they’re the two best players. Thank God for the game, that they’re still there, have that hunger, love it so much, that we get to enjoy this another couple years.
Q. Chrissie, on Jo Konta, since she made the semis last year, she hasn’t really backed that up this year. What do you think has gone wrong with her game? What do you think we should expect from her this fortnight?
CHRISSIE EVERT: She seems to be doing okay on the grass, though, this week. She lost to Wozniacki, didn’t she, in the last round of Eastbourne? But she seemed to have some good wins, is playing better.
It’s hard, she’s a very, to me, kind of a nervous type of player. She’s got the shots. On paper, you watch her, you’ll marvel. On a CV, she has a good serve, good groundies, a great all-around game. I think she just gets a little fidgety and hyped and nervous at times. I think that’s one area she’s been working on.
She seems the last few years to be working on the mental part of the game, getting a sports psychologist. I think she has to continue working on that aspect of the game because she’s not playing — she’s still not there playing with the freedom that you need to play. The top players play with sort of a relaxed freedom. They have the trust in their shots. I feel like she’s a little tense. She had a great summer last summer, then all of a sudden some bad losses. I think that’s going to take away a little bit more confidence. It’s really up to her. She’s got to talk to herself. She has to believe. She has to relax, play with a new kind of freedom, see how that goes. It hasn’t worked this year with what she’s been doing.
Q. John, what have you made of Kyle Edmund coming through?
JOHN McENROE: Let me just get a quick glance of exactly what he’s got going for him here. I think you’re talking about apples and oranges with Edmund and Murray. Edmund has potentially Djokovic in the third round. What I’m seeing here. I believe Edmund has the possibility.
Q. He beat Djokovic in Miami this year. Seems to be stepping up a bit on the grass, beat Andy the other day.
JOHN McENROE: He beat Novak somebody, I don’t know if his name was Djokovic in Miami, but that wasn’t Djokovic. He’s approaching himself again, which is a different story altogether. Nonetheless, I think Kyle has made some excellent progress. I was really impressed with what I saw. I watched him go through some extremely difficult matches in brutal heat, and come through to the semis. I don’t see a guy winning majors, I see a guy that can do a lot of damage to a lot of people. I see an extreme professional.
If I had to guess, maybe in the 10 to 20 range, perhaps better, if he can continue to work on a couple things. A lot of things have improved, his backhand, his serve is better. He’s got the fitness that he didn’t have before. It will be interesting to see what he did if he played Novak third round here, how he would handle that. Again, he played Murray, but that’s not Murray as of this time. That’s not his fault. So he’s taken advantage of some opportunities. He played pretty solid tennis at the French. He’s making some good progress and I hope he keeps it up.
Q. How do you see Roger Federer skipping the clay court season and what will the transition be like in the future to future stars?
JOHN McENROE: That’s a tremendous question that we don’t really know the answer to. We keep waiting for the people to step up. Dimitrov hasn’t seemed to have done it. Milos has been deep. Is Zverev going to step up? Coric? Who is it going to be? Kyrgios had the opportunity. He doesn’t seem to have taken advantage of it. Sock broke into the top 10, but he’s had a poor year. You don’t see anyone just grabbing it. Credit to the guys, the greats, the all-time greats. In a way, they’re just taking it to these guys, just notching up one after the other.
As far as Roger, Roger didn’t play the clay court season last year and he won Wimbledon. To me it was probably a bit of a no-brainer that he was going to do the same thing. Why would he do something different and risk? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it type of thing. It worked so well. Look what he just did. He went and won Australia again. It’s incredible what he’s done.
CHRISSIE EVERT: Like when Serena was out of the game, it was like, Okay, could somebody try to fill her shoes to a certain extent. We had, like, seven or eight different Grand Slam winners, but nobody could consistently week in and week out be the champion, like the past champions people mentioned, John, Jimmy, Martina, Steffi. Week in, week out, they win. They win eight, nine tournaments a year. You see that on the men’s, on the women’s. Might be that the depth is so tough now. I think we’re waiting for a woman as well as a man to step up.
As far as Roger, Roger’s goal right now should not be to support the tour week in and week out. Anybody who is 36 years old and still playing at this high level, winning 20 Grand Slams, he can afford to be selfish, think about himself, think about what’s best for his career and body. If he has to take three or four months off, so be it. I think Serena and Nadal are in the same boat.
Q. John, I wanted to ask about Djokovic stepping up during the clay season. The hunger was back. He even got within a championship point at Queen’s. How is he shaping up? And Chris, a question on Kvitova. She has won more titles than anybody else this year. What do you expect from her?
JOHN McENROE: He’s certainly heading in the right direction. He said his elbow is not bothering him. We hope he can win more majors. He seems to have had a level of fitness that we’ve seen over the course of the last five or six years. That’s been a work in progress. I think part of why you saw those results in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, for example, is I think he realized physically, not only mentally, he just wasn’t where he needed to be to compete at the level he wanted to.
He’s had to sort of go through this process, which has been sort of tough for him, that he’s not really getting the results he wanted. But each time you’ve seen him, he seems closer to being Novak. I thought he’d beat Cecchinato at the French. He lost to him in the quarters. I was interested to see what happened with Thiem in the semis. I was watching the match with Cilic, thought he was going to win that in straight sets, so I was somewhat surprised he ended up losing that. He was clearly playing more along the lines of what we expect.
Physically it’s not quite as demanding as the other ones, Wimbledon, it’s more mental. Perhaps he can sort of take it a step further and make a real deep run. It wouldn’t shock me if he made a deep run this year. It wouldn’t shock me if he wasn’t quite there yet. I’m not sure exactly. But I think he’s a heck of a lot closer than he was a year ago.
CHRISSIE EVERT: As far as Kvitova, she’s a player that has had the best form on the grass so far this year. She’s had a really good year. Again, another player who was out for a long time because of the injury on her hand. She came back and has that new appreciation for the game.
She’s always going to be dangerous on the grass. She’s won Wimbledon twice. She has the serve to get you off the court. She likes the point to be short. She’s fitter in her career than she’s ever been right now, she’s the fittest. She has to be considered one of the top two, three favorites, if not the favorite, to win Wimbledon.
Q. You both spoke about the next generation. The men’s section always had a pecking order. The women apart from Serena hasn’t had it. Do you think it’s for the good of the game to not have a pecking order?
CHRISSIE EVERT: Listen, people are going to enjoy tennis no matter what’s going on. If there’s a dominant No. 1 player like Serena, people are going to be interested in seeing if she can keep it up. If there’s just an abundance of talent, but it’s very unpredictable at the top, there’s 10 women that can win a Grand Slam, people are going to still watch it because they’re going to wonder who is going to pull out winning a Grand Slam.
It’s unpredictable. It’s still wonderful to watch. If it’s predictable, you’re watching a legend, it’s still wonderful to watch. I don’t think the ratings on TV or the public fascination makes any difference with what’s going on in the women’s game or the men’s game.
I think rivalries help, and I think having a dominant player helps. I think the unpredictability of seeing who is going to step into the next shoes of being No. 1 in the world, being on that platform, I think that helps and that’s interesting, too. I’m trying to promote the game, so I think all of it’s just worthy of watching.
JOHN McENROE: In a one-on-one sport, it’s critical to have great rivalries. I think that helps quite a bit. Obviously when Roger and Rafa are winning all these majors, that sparks more interest. You need that I think.
Obviously from the standpoint of being an American, working ESPN, living here, it would be extremely helpful if there was a guy like if Novak being American, if there was an American going eight, ten majors going at it with these guys, would spark a lot more interest here. Luckily for the women, we’ve had Serena and Venus before that, or otherwise it would seem to me to have real problems. To me, hopefully because this is going to be a wide-open gap coming soon, someone, hopefully a couple Americans, will step through and be able to start to win majors.
Q. My question is about the fact that this is going to be a tournament for people like Federer, Rafa and Serena, a case of it being mind over matter. Rafa has injuries off and on. Federer is 36. Serena is a mom. How crucial is it?
CHRISSIE EVERT: Crucial. Obviously it’s probably the most important thing. The mindset is crucial. The one thing I remember when I was getting older, I retired at 34, but I started to have days where I’d wake up and I didn’t feel that inspiration to jump out of bed and race onto Centre Court. That’s where I marvel at these players, because every single match they seem to get psyched up for. That was tough for me.
I still think when you play 15, 20 years on the tour, that’s the problem you can be up against, having a bad day or two, not getting psyched to play. You just can’t do it. I think when you’re 18 or 19 and you’re eager, every day is a fresh day for you.
Serena has to feel confident to get those big serves in, to make that serve work. She has to feel confident to move. I think the confidence for her, believing in her abilities, believing she can win on grass, I think that’s crucial. As soon as there’s doubt in her mind, you can sense it in her body rhythms, her body language. She’s known as a confident player. I think you hit it on the head: the mental and emotional, especially for the three players you named, is crucial, to be consistent, feeling that way every day.
JOHN McENROE: I’ll just add that I agree with Chrissie. I’m amazed how hungry they still are, with as much as they’ve done. That’s what they should be given the most credit for. They keep doing what it takes to win, digging even deeper. That’s amazing. That’s why they’re the greatest ever. They seem to want it more than the guys that haven’t won anything.
Q. (Question about the next generation and how little they play best-of-five set format.)
JOHN McENROE: I think it’s a more physical game than ever. The game is quicker. I think it’s tougher for someone to bounce out of the box at 18, 19, 20 and be able to do what it takes that long. I think you need to work up towards that.
Perhaps in thinking about that now, we did have a few events where the finals was best-of-five. There were very few players that would be impacted by that. I doubt that’s as much of an issue as it is two things: one, that the game is quicker, it takes longer for guys to recover, and these top guys are better than them. Federer and Nadal and Djokovic are all-time greats. When push comes to shove over a longer period of time, it’s tougher to beat them.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I think, though, there’s that odd year, I keep thinking of Andy Murray, he played a full circuit, I think he won Wimbledon that year, then he played the Olympics, then he played Davis Cup, and they won it or reached the finals.
I think you’re going to have that one-off every once in a while where you really kind of have to be conscious of not overdoing it, especially for the men playing three-out-of-five sets in those tournaments I just mentioned.
Q. (Question regarding Bopanna).
JOHN McENROE: I know him, I’ve seen him. He’s a guy that’s proven he belongs on the men’s tour. I don’t know a lot about him. I just started seeing him, seeing his name. I see that potentially he plays Dimitrov in the second round. It would be hard-pressed for him to make a run even past that. Even though Dimitrov’s level is low, he does know what he’s doing on grass, and he likes grass. Honestly, I watch some doubles, I’ve seen him around for years. He definitely is a guy that is one of these doubles specialist guys. He’s been around a long time. I have not been following the game closely enough, I’m not even sure if the draw has been made in the doubles yet. I don’t know honestly what to expect. To me it’s all unpredictable in the doubles, way more than the singles.