ROLAND GARROS – As the second week of the French Open kicks in, players who once were headliners now are extra entertainment on Court 2, for the benefit of grounds pass holders.
But they sure are entertaining. And there’s probably a nice little cheque at the end of it.
At 58, John McEnroe is the second-eldest man in the legends’ draws, which are divided into over-35s, and over-45s. Only master showman Mansour Bahrami, at 61, is older.
But he’s showing off the benefits of the significant time we’re told he spends in the gym these days. His legs were never that muscular during his playing days.
And McEnroe is still the gold standard when it comes to the serve-volley game.
The hands are still lightning-quick. And he still does just enough – not too much, never too little – with the volley. It should be compulsory homework for the kids in the junior draws to have to come out and watch at least one of his matches.
For a few years, McEnroe would always put on at least one “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS” skit in every legends’ match. That’s probably because he figured that’s what everyone expected him to do.
But on Wednesday, he pretty much stuck to the tennis. And the full stands attested to how much the fans still appreciate what he brings to the court.
The changeovers with French partner Cédric Pioline were a hilarious master class in solitude. And some of the looks on McEnroe’s face when his partner would miss a routine volley were pretty priceless.
Put yourself in Pioline’s shoes. How nervous would you be at the net, knowing the master is standing right next to you – and knowing he’d never miss any of those volleys?
The pair ended up beating Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 in the match tiebreak.