John McEnroe Exclusive: “Kyrgios Is Picking Up From Where Nastase And I Left Off”
The American legend – now working as a tennis analyst and announcer for Eurosport - talks to Ubaldo Scanagatta about the similarities between the bad boys of the 1970s and the Australian rising star. He also talks about Fabio Fognini and compares Sampras to Federer.
John McEnroe is a legend both on and off the tennis court. He is a winner of 155 tournaments in both singles and doubles, including 17 Grand Slam trophies (7 singles, 9 men’s doubles and 1 mixed doubles). The American has recently taken on the new role of Commissioner of Tennis for Eurosport – the most popular European sports channel for which he works as a tennis analyst and announcer.
The friendship between McEnroe and the renowned Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta has a long history. The two go way back to the days when Ubaldo took John around Florence on his motorbike when the American was looking for a present for his first wife Tatum O’Neal. Ubaldo also had the opportunity to hit with John at the Club Italia in Forte dei Marmi on the beautiful Italian coast. This year in Australia, the two caught up for a long interview about the current state of the game as part of the great relationship between Eurosport and Ubitennis.
In a special series of interviews with Ubitennis, part one focuses on Nick Kyrgios. The Australian player known for his irrational behaviour that reminisces of the bad boys from the 1970s. Including McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. In order to cope with those players’ behaviour, the ATP was forced to create a “code of conduct” for the tour. Johnny Mac certainly appreciates the comparison: “Yes, Nick is picking up from where Nastase and I left. He only has to learn how not to throw in the towel when he’s having a bad day at the office. It is sometimes difficult to find the inspiration to win in those situations. It happens to everybody: Sometimes it may be a physical problem that turns into mental, sometimes it’s the opposite. The most difficult quality for a tennis player is to compete in every single point. I tried to do that because when I first started playing, the example for us Americans was Jimmy Connors, who used to fight on every point. Had I thrown in the towel, I wouldn’t have impressed anybody.”
During the interview, McEnroe and Scanagatta also talked about Fabio Fognini. With the blunt-speaking American having a go at Ubaldo while addressing Fabio’s behaviour.
At the end of part one, the two discuss Roger Federer’s 19 losses with the Swiss squandering match-points in his favour. “I have never seen anybody love everything about tennis like Roger does. Some players don’t like to travel, others don’t like to practice, yet they prefer to play matches,” McEnroe said.
When comparing Pete Sampras to Roger Federer, John explains how Roger is a more complete player, especially on the clay. “At the end of the day, any tennis player would be happy to have the career that Pete and Roger has had, including myself… Even if I did quite well in my days,” McEnroe candidly explains.
In part two, Mac will fulfil his act as the Commissioner of Tennis and explain what changes he would like to see in the game.