Tennis Prose



McEnroe Slammed by ATP Journeymen on Twitter

By Scoop Malinowski

During his career as a player John McEnroe regularly pissed off the establishment with his rebellious behavior.

Last night, McEnroe ticked off at least a couple of ATP journeyman players who rebuked the legendary champion on Twitter for apparently dismissive comments he made about John Millman during his futile attempt to upset Novak Djokovic two days after shocking the sports world with his unforgettable four set upset of Roger Federer.

“McEnroe already ripping Millman before they even played the first point. I’d say making the quarterfinals of a slam and completely outlasting Federer along the way deserves some credit. Awful excuse for a commentator,” tweeted Mitchell Krueger, ranked 267.

Another ATP player quickly supported Krueger and attacked McEnroe.

“Johnny Mac doing his thing letting the average ESPN viewer know that if you’re (ranked) 55 in the world you pretty much suck,” tweeted Bjorn Fratangelo, currently ranked 175.

Millman got off to a slow start but still managed to make a respectable battle of it, finally losing to Djokovic 63 64 64. Millman, the 29 year old veteran who waited seven years to score his first ATP main tour match win, had previously lost to Djokovic 61 62 earlier this year at Queens Club.

McEnroe has long been criticized by journeymen players for being an elitist who tends to look down on lower ranked players. This first came to light when I worked on a feature for asking various players who their favorite TV tennis commentators were.

Several of the players expressed frustration that most of the TV analysts are former top professional champions who regularly express disrespect for lower ranked players on the air.

Which leads one to wonder: Should ESPN and other TV networks balance their coverage teams out by adding one (or a few) former players who were career journeyman grinders, such as Michael Russell, Jeff Salzenstein, Vince Spadea, Jan-Michael Gambill, Jill Craybas, Geoff Grant, Jamea Jackson, Scoville Jenkins, Brian Vahaly, Ashley Harkleroad? These players may connect better to the audience than the 1%ers currently in the TV booths. Or at least they can add a different perspective.

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  • George · September 6, 2018 at 10:52 am

    The top elite players generate the tickets sales. I am willing to spend $3k of hard earned money for tickets, hotel and airfare to watch Federer play an exhibition in Chicago. At the same time, they have to give away free food to coax people to come watch a futures tournament here in Houston, and the tournament has great tennis with no one watching!

    Simple market forces.

  • Robert Golsmith · September 6, 2018 at 11:16 am

    I totally agree!
    I thought the same thing.
    Brad “Winning Ugly” Gilbert wasn’t much better.
    They dismissed John Millman before the first ball was struck. Both McEnroe and Gilbert didn’t give John Millman the respect he deserved and we deserved as viewers. I was greatly disappointed with the broadcast. They have a duty to make it exciting to watch. They have a duty to the players, viewing audience, broadcast companies, advertisers, to all tennis players and future tennis players to promote tennis. John Millman deserved RESPECT. They consequently disrespected all recreational players. We are all journeymen, journeywomen and journeychildern. By the way, the first set score vs Djokovic was the same set score vs Roger Federer, I didn’t hear anyone mention that, and the should have to keep our hopes up as viewers. Should we not give ourselves a chance prior to our own matches. They should have built up John Millman, what a wonderful story. He had a stretch of 7 years before winning a first round main draw ATP match. John had many set backs, which we can all related to. Talk about not quitting. Quitters never win and Winners NEVER quit. John Millman was a winner last night.

  • Doug Day · September 6, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Judged by the acid test, a jury of his peers, Mac comes out an elitest loser. After 70k in fines sliming our sport, still out of touch when it counts.
    Frank DeFord: People are there to be challenged. Indeed, because tennis came so easily he refuses to get into top shape to make it harder for himself, and soils the scene to make it harder for others to appreciate his God-given skills.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 11:42 am

    George this is true but I think the powers that be of tennis can do a better job of glorifying and lionizing the players ranked outside the top 75. The quality of tennis at Futures, Challengers and even top D1 and DIII schools looks just as good as what we are seeing this week in NY.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Robert, great post. I agree, the TV crew should have celebrated Millman. The public may be tired of celebrating how great Rafa, Serena, Roger are. Here we had one of the biggest shocks of the year if not decade happen and he was just basically written off last night as a tomato can. This was a perfect opportunity to talk about all the incredible feats by long shots Millman type players over the years, like Sandgren, like Monica Puig at the Olympics, like Nico Massu winning two Olympics golds in singles and doubles in 2004, a feat Fed and Rafa and Djokovic have all failed to do, talk about Victor Estrella Burgos who finally made his first US Open main draw at 33 and became the oldest person to crack the top 100 for the first time at 33. Talk about Wayne Arthurs who won his one and only ATP singles title in Scottsdale at age 33 and who once beat world no. 2 Edberg on grass when he was ranked 1100. Arthurs beat seven players who held the no 1 ranking. Don’t forget James McGee. McEnroe could have talked a lot more about some of his great upset wins coming up and also about some of his great upset losses like to John Austin and so many others. John Austin told the story about his beating McEnroe in my book Facing McEnroe. These shock the world matches that Millman pulled off deserve more credit and respect. The TV crew blew it last night and thanks to Krueger and Fratangelo for blowing the whistle. Welcome to the site Robert.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Doug, I think it’s time for ESPN to bring in some new blood and some new voices. Fish is pretty good. Gambill, Luke Jensen, Mike Russell could also offer more viewpoints and insights. Roddick would be interesting addition if he’s interested. This same combo of the McEnroes, BG and Cahill is very good but some fresh new energy would be a welcome addition.

  • Tom Sawyer · September 6, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I didn’t watch last night yet I totally agree with the comments. I am fascinated by the players outside the top 100 battling for a shot at the big show, and I loved watching qualies in NYC when I lived there because there was so much heart and hunger in those matches, not to mention talent and great tennis.

    Whatever happened to Mary Carillo? She would have honored Millman and his feats appropriately.

  • Bobby Hurley · September 6, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I find his brother far worse as a commentator than John. He is more critical without having achieved as much. He compliments whoever is winning and attacks whoever is losing. Seldom is he accountable for his earlier comments when someone has a comeback win.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Tom, agree, qualies is actually better than the main draw imo. Those players are the heart and soul of the sport, the main draw is mostly business and a lot of pampered primadonnas. The qualies is what it’s all about. Carillo is with Tennis Channel. Evert replaced her on ESPN I believe.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Bobby, I always liked Patrick McEnroe as a commentator, except for when he took some cheap shots at Sandgren the other night for his conservative views. Patrick did have an outstanding career, won Roland Garros doubles, Aussie Open semis in singles, 1995 Sydney singles champ. It had to be tough to make it as a pro with the name McEnroe, with everyone watching him being seven years younger than John. Yet he made it big as a pro. Always enjoyed him as a TV commentator too. He was at his best in his first ten years with ESPN. I picked up many tips to play from listening to him. Best one was variety and mixing up speeds and spins instead of hitting every ball the same speed as one player was doing in the TV match, I think it was Spadea actually.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    I have to add that I will always appreciate one thing that Patrick did for me – he mentioned my Rios book on TV during the Miami Open the same day I gave him a copy, he mentioned the book and me as a “friend.” I think it was Rafa vs Tsonga night match. A lot of people messaged me about it after bearing it. Special moment and it helped raise awareness for my Rios book. I think Patrick did that partially because I always defended him on this site and the old Tennisweek site when people criticized him for riding his brother’s coattails which I always felt was inaccurate. The guy had a great career, one singles title, several doubles, a Roland Garros doubles title, Aussie Open semis (lost to Becker). He was a solid pro in singles and doubles. A lot of pro players would have loved to have had a comparable career.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Look, I like the Qualis too, but to call the players in the Main Draw business people and primadonas is absurd. Every player in the USOpen has worked and sacrificed tremendously to be a MD player in a slam. The Qualis players like Krueger and Bjorn can grouse all they like about Mac dismissing Millman, but I don’t think it’s only Mac of the top players who dismiss journeymen players. Agassi called Spadea a journeyman. Top players are usually going to take lesser players lightly because they know how easy it was for them to beat these lesser-ranked players. Tennis isn’t a team sport. The top guys are under no obligation to talk nicely about a MILLMAN. It happens in the juniors too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Dan I did not say the whole main draws are pampered primadonnas but there are quite a few of those in tennis today. When top players complain about a baby making noise or wet shorts or it’s too hot or an overhead jet broke his focus, it means the players are soft. Patrick McEnroe called Gaston Gaudio “soft” on the air years before he won his French Open. I remember that. Look at the tank artists like Nick and Tomic and Rios. Safin was a crybaby about life on the tour too. Look at Jack Sock who has retired because of the heat. Yes there are some pampered spoiled players in the main draws. Hotels paid for, free transport, free meals, five free string jobs per player per day (singles and doubles draws) at the Aus Open…these players are not exactly Ramboing it.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Look nobody gets to this level Scoop without putting your dues in. None of theses players was appointed to their ranking. They earned it. Let Krueger or Frantangelo make it into a slam by their ranking or by qualifying. They can’t so they should keep their mouths shut about McEnroe who could’ve just rested on his 7 slams early in his career, but he didn’t. He played well into his 30’s still making slam semis.

    Just saw the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life. Im sitting front row for men’s doubles semis Melo and Kubot just won against Albot and Jaziri and Jaziri who has a rocket forehand ran down a volley that got by him at the net and from behind baseline slap shot a wrist backhand with his back to net. Two shots later he hit a backhand angle winner. Entry was free and the men’s and women’s doubles semis in Armstrong in oppressive heat is being played before maybe 300 fans. Great stuff. Mike Bryan and Sock are next against the Colombians

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    What did McEnroe specifically say about Millman? I didn’t watch that match since the result was a foregone conclusion.

    The way I see it is if Millman isn’t upset, no one else should be. Sounds like these journeymen are SJWs with some PC nonsense.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Here’s a new one, guy behind me was waving an American flag when they announced Bryan and Sock and security guy told him no flags. Apparently if everyone is waving one which is not the case, they get in spectators way.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    No. 1 player on planet, Mike Bryan, 40 years old, 118 titles 17 Grand Slams. Wow, that’s a resume.

  • Chazz · September 6, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Dan, was his shot better than this one last weekend?

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    In my mind yes, because it came durring a long rally and Jaziri somehow with his back to net behind the baseline hit s laser contorting his wrist. Just really like Houdini. Fed’s was more straight forward.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 6, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Shows you how this PC culture has run amok when an American flag cannot be allowed into the United States Open! You have to be kidding me. I can’t support the tennis on this one, especially in light of how Nike is using subversive techniques in its ads.

    I’d say more but I can’t. All I can see is check out Scoop’s Twitter account for more news you probably aren’t getting.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Well of course, Scoop’s Secretary of State now isn’t he? No, I was surprised by the no flag rule—is was a little one too.

    Give Krueger and Frantangelo an idea of how tennis and basketball in particular—where you can see players’ faces—work. There’s Bryan, Farrah and Cabal on court, but my eye’s attracted to Sock. He’s a star even though he’s not playing like a star and his coach, brother and father are all here. Sock hits the most electric shots, he hits a tweeter even though ball was out, he carries on conversation w Knowles his coach during match. He’s the star and I imagine most people are here to watch him. Most tennis fans wouldn’t know who Krueger and Frantangelo are if they saw them in the street.

  • H · September 6, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I agree that the commies should not dismiss a player before the match even begins. Any player who makes it to a Slam on his/her own steam, as opposed to receiving a wildcard, deserves respect. It’s one thing to say Novak is a heavy favourite, quite another to act as though Millman has no chance whatsoever. basically poking fun at the guy.

    Fortunately, because TSN, my sports channel, uses other feeds in addition to ESPN, I hear a variety of commentators. It would drive me nuts if I just had a steady diet of the McEnroes and Gilbert. Drysdale is well past it, he should have retired a long time ago. (But I always enjoy Cahill and the rare appearances by Goodall.) ESPN’s coverage would be strengthened by some new blood in the commentary box.

    Tennis does a poor job of telling the stories of the players who aren’t at the top. I understand that casual fans are only interested in the top guys, but other fans, the ones who frequent tennis sites, should be open to hearing about those players. Certainly Millman had a compelling story, and he is just one of many. Last January he did an interesting, extensive piece for the Player’s Voice about his experiences as a tennis pro, so journalists did not even have to do much work to learn about him.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Here’s my take on Sock: it seems to me he’s a guy who likes constant attention. That’s why he plays such an electric game, he can and he likes to wow people. He’s looking up at his box all the time, joking with Knowles, but in singles you really can’t get away with doing that. Singles doesn’t have the interplay doubles does. Singles is more work while doubles is more play. That suits Sock better.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Dan, of course every player in the top 100 or so is a miracle. They survived and overcame so much adversity and challenge. But as one pro coach told me this year, all these players have been coddled since about age 13. Once they showed potential, everything in their lives was taken care of. Pretty much they were pros at age 13. No normal school, no jobs, just play tennis and train every day and go play tournaments. This coach said it’s not a real world these players have lived in and live in after tennis. So many of them come back to tennis in one way or another, they can’t do anything else, they don’t know anything else. Like this coach told me he saw a very famous former champion around now, was hitting this year and his agent, like a caddy, mixed up his bag and carried the wrong Head bag of a different player who had the same bag and this former player we talk about here just blasted and humiliated his agent for a mistake of picking up the wrong bag that was the same as his. The player lost his mind because he couldn’t handle this little confusion mistake made by his agent. Kind of warped.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Duke, I watched the match and the pre-talk but nothing registered as being insulting or condescending to my ears but to Fratangelo and Krueger it was obviously offensive. Or maybe they’re just overly sensitive.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Oh the irony of not being able to wave an American flag at an American sporting event for two American champions. Oh the irony of that is enough to awaken even the sleepiest of deep sleeping patriots.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Dan, Sock’s nickname is J Sizzle, it’s not The Grinder or The Punisher or Hard Hat Jack. Sock likes to put on a show. Doubles is more suitable platform for his showmanship. Singles he has to grind and dig deep and work the body and out fight some pretty tough warriors one on one mano a mano, he has to maintain concentration and focus for three four or five hours. One act of clownery or joking with his box is enough to break his concentration or rhythm. Sock at this time does not have the discipline and dedication to thrive in singles. He can of course, but like his pal Kyrgios he plays this sport for his own pleasure and entertainment and we can’t criticize him for that. He’s doing it His Way not Ferrer’s way or Hewitt’s way.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I have been reading up and can’t find anything he said either. Doubt then that Mac said anything and just another case of snowflakes being offended then. Big week for that

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    I have discovered the quotes by McEnroe on Millman in the first set and will post them within 12 hours…

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    This is why women’s tennis just leaves me hanging so much. I sit down for a women’s semis slam and Serena beats her opponent so badly you’d think it was a first round match. Now Osaka wins first set 6-2. Where’s the competition? This kind of lopsided scores is something you rarely see in a men’s slam semis.

  • catherine · September 6, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    And Serena won by serving and volleying – where did that come from ? I think she figured she didn’t want to stay out there too long.

    She’ll thrash Osaka.

    So maybe women will take up serve/volley again now 🙂

  • catherine · September 6, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Losing at Wimbledon awoke Serena from her slumbers.
    It’s vengeance time.

    And perhaps the rest of the WTA will be woken from their slumbers as well. Can’t be bad.

  • Hartt · September 6, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Apparently Patrick M convinced Serena she can play well at the net by showing her the stats of her successful net play. Facing a tricky player with a good slice (shades of Vinci) Serena did not want to get involved in long rallies, hence 24/28 point at the net.

    I think Serena will beat Osaka but, given Naomi’s play this evening, I don’t think it will be a rout. Naomi played well overall with good serving, good control. Although she did face 13 BPs she showed great composure in making her shots when it counted the most, and saved all those BPs. As long as she doesn’t get overwhelmed by the occasion I think Osaka could surprise us in the final by making it competitive.

  • catherine · September 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    I really hope Naomi can make it a good match and not be crushed.

    Serna said she had played enough doubles to know about volleying – so why not try it here ? As you say, she did not want to get into long rallies.

    Naomi doesn’t have great experience in volleying so I expect she’ll stick to her normal game and her best chance will be to keep Serena out there. I was a bit surprised she beat Keys – thought Maddie’s experience would get her the win.

    But it’s been a great tournament for Naomi. The rest of the season should be interesting.

    Irony about Sascha being Osaka’s coach – I presume he still is ?

  • Thomas Tung · September 6, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    Yes, Sasha is still Osaka’s coach, and was in her box for the Keys match tonight. He was really proud — he had to turn his head a few times to prevent the big tears in his eyes from falling out.

    Osaka had a smart, clever game plan against the very talented, but super one-dimensional Keys (who is a nice person, on and off the court).

    Naomi is ridiculously charismatic, because she is ridiculously humble and shy. That’s not usually a combo that works, but it’s dynamite in her case — the post-match interview with Tom Rinaldi was both very sweet, and very hilarious (in part, because Rinaldi fielded some really mind-bogglingly dumb questions).

    Osaka’s mom has really raised her to be very Japanese (despite growing up in America) — cleaning after herself, and the bow to Madison as they approached to shake hands at net. Japanese guy on Reddit told me that her humility, as well as her success, is what is making a lot of Japanese fans really like her. In many Asian cultures, how you conduct yourself is as important (if not more) as how you perform — and this is especially true in Japan. It’s a major reason why a certain RF is so popular over there.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 7, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Well those matches were awful. I have a feeling Saturday will be even worse. Could this be the worst U.S. Open’s women’s tournament in history? Every QF and SF were straight-sets and not even a TB or a 7-5.

    Meanwhile have you noticed that Layhani has not worked a match since he coached Clownios? It shows you that the USTA opted to discipline him even when they did not say this publicly. I think they did not want to embarrass him and it is probably the right move to suspend him and not make a big deal out of it.

  • catherine · September 7, 2018 at 2:14 am

    Thomas – Naomi talked a little a couple of days ago about her friendship with Nishikori, how they enjoy the same things, computer games etc (‘he’s just a big boy really’) and how she had taken a while to get to know him because she’s so shy. What a nice change from some of the behaviour we see around others in the WTA 🙂

    I like the way she bows. I know it’s a Japanese tradition but it looks so respectful.

    It’s a shame Naomi’s mother didn’t bring her up to speak Japanese because she might be finding that ability quite useful now. I imagine it’s a little hard to learn a language like Japanese when you’re an adult.

  • catherine · September 7, 2018 at 2:35 am

    You can’t measure the quality of a match by its length. Serena/Sevastova was SS but far from awful because of how Serena played and what it told us about her game.

    Same with Osaka/Keys.

    The Halep/Stephens match in Montreal (? I forget) was one of the worst I’ve seen this year because it was 3 sets of the most boring tennis imaginable.

    (I’d be interested to see how long Simona holds on to that No 1 ranking. Since Roland Garros she hasn’t done much to justify it.)

  • Hartt · September 7, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Catherine, Naomi’s mother did speak Japanese to her daughters when they were growing up. Naomi understands Japanese and takes questions in Japanese at her press conferences. She answers in English because she doesn’t feel that she speaks Japanese well enough to speak it in a formal situation, but she is working on improving it.

  • Hartt · September 7, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Layhani has been the ump at some matches on the outer courts, such as doubles matches, do he hasn’t been suspended. I think it makes sense to keep him out of the spotlight for the rest of the tournament, but imagine he will get big assignments again very soon.

  • catherine · September 7, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Hartt – thanks for that info – I haven’t seen any of Naomi’s pconferences so didn’t realise she understands Japanese – a lot of people say she doesn’t. I think there are different forms of spoken Japanese which must make things complicated unless you grow up there.

    I saw a clip from a chat she was having with a Japanese tv channel earlier this year and the interviewers were giggling at her Japanese attempts, but in a nice way. In the end they retreated to English and it was Naomi’s turn to giggle 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2018 at 8:57 am

    It was the right thing to do, keep Lahyani out of the high profile stadium matches and let the storm pass. That’s a better option than any kind of ban or suspension. He meant well and he did the sport a service and it’s the first time he’s ever been involved in any kind of controversy. He’s the best in the business and he deserves some slack. Since his banishment, they have used some new umpire faces and they have performed well.

  • Joe Blow · September 7, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Saw 2 minutes of the SW/Sevastova match. Sevastova was up a break, missed a shot and looked like she was gonna cry. Who wants to watch these freaking childish reactions. Changed the channel

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Sevastova didn’t look like she was there to win. Some may have demanded a refund.

  • catherine · September 7, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Sevastova had a viral infection. She had thought about withdrawing but didn’t because she decided she ought to compete because of the crowds etc. She was clearly suffering throughout the match.

  • catherine · September 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Sorry – I think it was Tsurenko who had the virus 🙂

  • Tom Sawyer · September 7, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Everyone who plays against Serena seems to have the same virus — wussatitus.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Tom, well if there’s one player immune to this disease Serena inflicts on players, it’s Osaka. She has no fear at all. Don’t know if you saw her call out Serena last night, she is clearly the opposite of all the other players, she openly clamors the chance to crush Serena as she showed last night with a big smile on her face and a sneaky twinkle in her eye.

  • Tom Sawyer · September 7, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    I love Osaka and will be pulling for her. I hope you are right and she won’t be awed by the moment. She has a great attitude and personality.



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