Jun/16

16

McEnroe Trying to Stoke Raonic’s Inner-McEnroe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve been watching Johnny Mac now in his charge’s last two matches, Milos Raonic’s wins against Nick Kyrgios and Jiri Vesely, and I like what I see in Mac’s courtside demeanor. He’s not piping up, just talking quietly to Raonic’s main coach, Ricardo Piatti, who coached Djoko and more recently, Gasquet. But the intensity which made Mac probably the most fiery player ever to play the game, male or female, is ever evident in Mac’s tight-lipped stare and the way he never takes his eye off the court. Wearing a New York Mets cap for the Kyrgios match and a New York cap for the Vesely match, Johnny Mac could be seen willing Raonic through the finish line in both matches. More than any coach I’ve ever seen except for maybe Becker, Mac looks like he’s taking every match Raonic plays like it’s Johnny Mac himself on the court.

And so far, so good. If it was Mac who got Raonic to cut his hair and change his greasy slicked hairstyle that’s kudos itself. Also, I love the way Raonic is slicing his backhand on the grass, coming up to net and hitting some nifty volleys. Four years ago, Johnny Mac prophesied that Raonic could play a net-rushing game like his idol, Pete Sampras, and win Wimbledon. Will the big Canadian break through at Wimby? His chances are infinitely better now that he’s made this daring move and hired Johnny Mac, who’s been itching to win another Wimbledon since 1984. If Raonic wins the 2016 Wimby title, Mac will feel it’s his too. raonic (McEnroe oil painting by Scoop Malinowski)

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35 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · June 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

    Amazing that Raonic said at the first practice Johnny Mac attended, he picked up his racquet and hit for three hours with the big Canuck. That’s something Lendl isn’t doing with Murray you can be assured. Mac never had a traveling coach the way Borg did. Tony Palafox is credited with being his only real coach and that’s pretty much when he was a junior. So its interesting to think who Mac’s role model is as a coach.

    It’s also interesting that of the celebrity coaches, it’s been mostly the more aggressive, net-rushing players who’ve fared better as the coaches, like Becker, Goran and Edberg, although Lendl is the obvious exception and Chang too to a lesser degree.

  • Harold · June 17, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Whats Mac going to do if he has to commentate on a big Wimby match that MR is playing in. Send texts to Piatti?

  • Andrew Miller · June 17, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Raonic would be runner up :)

  • Andrew Miller · June 17, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Harold, McEnroe scouts from booth. Gets paid 2x for same gig.

  • Hartt · June 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Raonic has said he would like to extend working with Mac but they have not discussed it yet. Obviously Mac’s heavy schedule could be a problem. He also talked about how he enjoys spending time with Mac, they share an interest in art and talk about that.
    And Scoop, you will be pleased to hear that Milos said he needs to have more of a “presence” on the court.

  • Andrew Miller · June 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    With all these supercoaches, someone’s bound to be upset. I’d think Becker is most vulnerable. Enjoys coaching Djoker but may ask for more cash, then Djoker might have a hiccup at Wimby and it rolls downhill from there.

    Or maybe having so many heavyweight coaches will put some pressure on winning ugly coaches like Annacone and Gilbert, who see their coaching territory occupied by all time greats and to be viable need to show they can guide a player, even if they already have.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Great to see McEnroe is into this coaching gig – He said five of his six kids are on their own now so he has the tiMe to devote to a player – Mac really wants to help Raonic succeed – court presence is a key factor which all the great chaMpions of tennis and boxing have – these players own the court and it’s their court – Raonic needs to develop that – I just spoke with TiM Ryan the ex CBS broadcaster who did the US Open and Oly and Stanley Cups – he has a great love for tennis and learned a lot by being an announcer and even playing with legends like NewcoMbe and Fraser – he said he was asked to play doubles with the Aussie legends because they needed one person to fill out a doubles gaMe as the very last Match ever played on the old grass court in Sydney – he said when they were done the guys were there literally ready to rip up the court – I will post this story next week – Really loving this story of Raonic and McEnroe and to see if McEnroe can inspire Raonic to be a GS CHAMPION which we all know he can be -

  • Moskova Moskova · June 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    you cannot be serious !! LOL ;)

  • Dan Markowitz · June 17, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    It’s funny how it’s gone with Johnny Mac. Two of his contemporaries, Gilbert and Annacone, became the big coaches of their generation along with Larry Stefanki, who were all so-so players with Gilbert being just above that level. Now all of these guys who are all in their mid-50’s or older in Stefanki’s case are out of coaching. You don’t know if they’d like to coach again and are just not getting jobs or they’re retired from coaching.

    And now here comes Johnny Mac. Tennis is the only sport I can think of where you really don’t know what kind of effect the coach is having on his player. Has Djoko gotten better under Becker? Yes, Murray won his two slams under Lendl, but what did Lendl to improve Murray’s game or mind?

    Is coaching just basically being a good figure head at this level or do these coaches really raise the games of their players? If Raonic even reaches the Wimby semis I guess you’d have to say Mac had a positive effect on him.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Gilbert was not just a so-so player – He beat McEnroe and was 4 in the world – it’s strange how Stefanki is not called on but who knows – he could have had enough of the travel and is happy doing what he’s doing – Agree it is hard to Measure how Becker has really benefited Djokovic- Spadea could have had the same effect if he had had the chance – I think the Becker and Lendl super coaches could be overrated in how they actually fine tune the player – I think it’s possible they are more beneficial because of the good company they bring to the player and also they divert some of the attention and pressure away from the player – But most of all these super champions have been there and only they know how it feels – The Roger Rasheeds and Larry Stefankis and Jamie Delgado’s don’t know and really can’t say any magic words – Coaches like Cahill and Gilbert were there actually – they had front row seats and saw how Hewitt and Agassi did it -

  • Dan Markowitz · June 18, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Raonic lost to Cilic I see, fire McEnroe! Gilbert was a good player, but his furthest run in a slam was one US Open quarters and one Wimby quarters so that’s just above being so-so. Spadea made a quarters run in a slam too and 3 4th rd appearances. Gilbert had 4 other 4th rd appearances.

    Look, I agree with you, a coach fine-tuning a player’s game occurs, but these guys are already championship-level players so how much extra is a coach doing at this point for a top player’s game? Maybe the biggest plus is if your Raonic and you look over at Johnny Mac during a tough stretch and you see his resolve and you think, “He’s on my side so I can summon the energy and the will here to come through too.”

  • Andrew Miller · June 18, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Pioline would have slammed with a Gilbert, Lendl, Becker in his corner.

  • Hartt · June 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Raonic just beat Tomic at Queen’s, so he will play the final against Murray. I would love to see Milos win this but I know it will be tough against Murray. But if he plays as well as he did at the AO before the injury he has a good shot at the title.

  • Bryan · June 18, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I was a little perplexed by the Raonic/Mac combo initially but maybe this will work. Opposites sometimes mesh well. Raonic just made the first grass finals of his career.

  • Andrew Miller · June 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Zverev d. Federer. Sorry to say it, but Fed is going to retire by end of 2017. Guys like Zverev are getting ready to take over as the big four moves past age thirty. They aren’t trying on crowns yet but it is brewing. Not yet, but sooner than anyone wants.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I don’t think Fed will quit in 1 1/2 years. I think he’s going to be like Ichiro, playing well into his forties.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Fed will play beyond 17 and 18 I feel – the sport needs Fed because there are no huge ticket sellers right now outside of Federer – not only that as Fed still LOVES to play this sport and I don’t think he is ready for the next stage of his life/career (Davis Cup captain coach TV Hollywood politics ATP President etc etc whatever) – Fed’s future beyond playing tennis would be an interesting discussion – I agree with Dan that Fed continues playing into his 40s -

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Haven’t seen any of Raonic this week but this result in Queens is an awfully important one for him – exactly what the doctor ordered -

  • Harold · June 19, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Do you guys really think Feds going to stick around if he is going out of Majors, and Masters early? If he has bad showings at this years Wimby( less than semis) USO and Olys, I say he goes to Wimby 2017, followed by a farewell at the Swiss tourney right after Wimby.

    Dont see him sticking around watching his legacy go down, answering lots of questions about Djoko about to break his record. If his back doesnt get better( they never do), and he isnt contending, he’s outta here.

    Dont see him becoming a ” Super Coach” or a TV guy.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

    What do you see Fed becoming Harold? Perhaps a sort of Agassi figure who largely vanishes but does make infrequent grand appearances like a Ben Kenobi mystical mythical figure – I think this year is going to provoke RF to finally start thinking about his grand farewell exit – last year he was still at the peak of his powers and very VERY nearly a two time GS title winner – but this year there has been a clear sudden slippage – for the second time in his career it looks like Fed is falling – and unlike the previous mirage pseudo fall in 2013 (no GS and only a SF at Aus Open as his best result) this time it could be real mccoy – How Fed approaches the home stretch of his illustrious career probably will overshadow everything else that happens in pro tennis even a Grand Slam by Djokovic or a shock major win by somebody like Taylor Fritz or Zverev or Kozlov – considering how touching and emotional and dramatic Agassi’s farewell was I think even that will be a mole hill next to a mountain compared to the retirement of Roger Federer -

  • Andrew Miller · June 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Agree with Harold. Federer “might” stick around to clinch another record or two, but that’s it. On the all time wins, Connors is at 1256 and Federer is in the 1070s – let’s say 1080. 176 wins away. Let’s say Federer’s 18 matches played this year at the half-point are just an anomaly and somehow he gets to 50 wins this year

    Spot him 60 wins a year – just totally awesome years in the future. His 37 additional wins this year would put him around the 1100 mark at the end of 2016, and he’d get the all time match win record by the end of 2019.

    That’s just not happening. I don’t think the sport will be fun for him anymore as his ranking drops and he faces the prospect of repeated, early exits at tournaments he likes, loves or whatever.

    No way.

  • Andrew Miller · June 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Or, Federer could start entering easy to win tournaments and become a star in markets he never goes to. Builds out his legend a bit. Maybe then he can pad his record, keep it out of Novak’s reach at least in the all time wins.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Geez, Fed just got to the semis of a grass event. He’s slipping, but he’s not exactly Michael Chang at 30. Give the guy a little time to come back. I’m sure he’ll still be top 10 at the end of next year so I see him playing into 2018 at least. The guy’s in great shape. I think he’s looking to pull a Connors and get to a slam semis in his late-30’s or even 40.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    What you people don’t realize about Fed is he’s one of the most competitive players ever. He’s not just going to retire because he’s got a bad back. He had a bad back a while ago and fully recovered so I would bet he feels he can kick this back problem again.

    And then Fed doesn’t seem like he has that many interests outside of tennis. He’s kind of like Connors in that regard. When Connors retired at 42 he immediately started the Jimmy Connors Seniors Tour so he could beat up on all the old-timers and make more money.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 19, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Add Florian Mayer, especially on grass, to my favorite players list along with Dolgo, Sam Groth, Dustin Brown, Adrian Mannarino (who dogged Fritz today), Stakhovsky and Kyrgios.

    I’d say there’s no one in tennis I dislike more now than Alex Zverev. What’s a 19 year old wearing so much bling around his neck for? And he’s just a pill. He looks like he’s one of those teenage vampires. Scary looking dude, I expect him to open his mouth and see fangs.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Never saw a photo of Fed golfing but he is supposedly an avid skier who has put skiing on hold so as to not risk injury – Not sure of any other Fed interests and non tennis activities -

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    LOL at calling Zverev a vampire zombie – Dan you’re hard on for Zverev is quite amusing – I get the feeling you have found your new James Blake to whip on – all those years of whipping Blake on Tennisweek forums until finally “James Himself” had to actually enter the discussion and defend himself from about a decade of keyboard whipping -

  • Andrew Miller · June 19, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I’ll buy Dan’s “Federer as Connors” analogy. Federer hasn’t slammed since 2012 and it’s a good four years since then. I’d guess as long as he feels able to vie for big titles if not win a few big Masters tournaments and make slam semifinals, sure.

    So maybe we should all pencil him in for most all time wins.

    I still think what Harold says is true. Sampras had nothing going off court either, and he went off into the sunset. And unlike Sampras, Federer has back issues. And he’s probably ticked to be losing to players like Zverev.

    I don’t like Zverev’s whining but I can’t deny it, the guy has game.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Just saw Raonic vs Andy highlights at Queens – again the very noticeable difference was the fiery emotions used by Andy and the stoic blank robotic attitude of Raonic – How many times do I have to say it – EmOTIONAL ADRENALINE makes a difference – it WINS matches from losing positions – I have used emotional adrenaline countless times to win matches – Raonic must constructively use his emotions and learn to show them – manufacturing emotional intensity and using it to raise his level (which is what happens) will be the difference of Raonic winning a major and being a Todd martin Greg Rusedski Anke Huber mary Joe Fernandez type who got so close but always feel short because they were stoic unemotional players -

  • Dan Markowitz · June 19, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    I think Murray/Lendl are ready to beat Djoko/Becker, but I still don’t see the emotional charge or athleticism from Raonic to win a slam title.

    Scoop, you’re saying Zverev is my new Blake? Ok, I’ll take that. But I actually liked Blake a whole lot more than I like Zverev. Funny, his older brother, Mischa, looks like a better guy than the punkish Sasha.

  • Krzysztof · June 20, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Dan, why did you dislike Blake? He is a real nice person. In 2012 I was in Paris, and witnessed his loss to Youzhny. After the loss I asked him to sign his autobiography and despite being really dejected he stopped and gave me his signature. Next year I witnessed his last Grand Slam match win at Wimbledon versus de Bakker and asked him for signing my tennis ball. He laughed when heard my comment “I believed in you”, signed and my wife made us a quick photo ;).

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2016 at 7:15 am

    You didn’t finally like Blake till the end of his career Dan -

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Krzysztof: Blake has always been first class as a player and a person – Dan always thought Blake was an overrated underachiever and continually took shots at him at the Tennisweek forums – I always defended and praised Blake’s career against the criticism for years – Blake was a non hyped junior and was not a pro prospect until he left Harvard after a year and suddenly started to show good results in the ATP – I saw his first US Open match a 161616 loss to Chris Woodruff and did a Biofile with him after the match – for a guy who was an NCAA runner up and a non entity in the ITF juniors Blake had a fantastic pro career beating Fed at the Olympics and Rafa the first two times they played and many other notable wins – even getting to no 4 in the world and qualifying for year end masters – I’d go as far to say Blake is one of the greatest over achievers in the modern ATP era – and if not for Fed and Rafa Blake could have possibly won a GS – if Blake would have beaten Agassi in that US Open QF five set night match he probably would have won that US Open -

  • Dan Markowitz · June 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Kryzsztof,

    The reason I didn’t like Blake was many-fold. I did an article with him when he was 18. He came to the club I was teaching tennis at in Purchase, NY (he grew up in Trumbull which is only 30 mins away) with Mats Wilander, who hit with Thomas Blake a lot, and we did a World According To piece for Tennis Magazine. Then it was 1999, US-Australia Davis Cup tie at the Longwood club in Boston (the weekend JFK Jr. died in plane crash) and Blake was a practice partner on the Martin-Courier team that got beat 4-1 by Rafter-Hewitt (where I made the remark about Martin that watching him play was like watching grass grow–and a woman hissed behind me) and James was there as a 19 year old with Alex O’Brien as practice players and James was kind of cold to me.

    I don’t know why, maybe he didn’t like the Tennis Magazine article. I also remember him telling me he thought he was a better player than Hewitt, he’d beaten him a couple of times in the juniors. And then the following year, I was at Wimbledon doing a Tennis Mag article on Magnus Norman and also one of my favorite players of all time, Ginaluca Pozzi, and I saw Blake again outside the player’s lounge and he basically looked right through me like he didn’t know me. I remember thinking, wow, that’s kind of weird.

    His dad, Thomas Blake Sr. was a great guy. I still remember talking to him in Miami when he was watching one of James’ matches and he was reading this big book and I thought what a cool guy, able to read a book while his son was playing a match. But my dislike for James took on larger proportions when I heard from Spadea that he had run-in’s with James, especially during a match in Vienna, where James had the gall to accuse Spadea of trying to break his rhythm when he took a mid-match bathroom break and then told Vince at a changeover that nobody liked him on tour, while James Himself, was one of the most-liked guys on tour. That’s tacky and bizarre for one pro to tell another.

    Then when Break Point came out and Blake got all huffy about how he was portrayed in the book–really all Spadea said is that he felt Blake’s backhand was weak and his serve was iffy and his forehand was flashy, but not technically-sound–and James acted like Spadea was some scrub who didn’t have the right to make these comments in a book. So I think James can be hypocritical and instead of saying, “Hey, Spadea had my number” he acted like Spadea was some kind of a scrub and classless.

  • Krzysztof · June 25, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Dan,

    I understand your proof but still I think Blake should not be judged because of some misunderstanding. Yes, maybe he should have asked you about this article but I still regard him as a normal guy, like a man from neighborhood. He appreciated other players, accepted losses, was not a type of superstar guy. He did not like gamesmanship, I remember that in 2009 in San Jose he said that he did not like Serra moving before James serve – it was distracting for him as a player.

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