PMac talks Davis Cup
Yes, this article's a week old, but I think PMac's ideas are still current. What do you think (besides the fact that PMac is a complete moron)?
Pat Mac talks Davis Cup
by Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated
Afflicted by Davis Cup fever? We didn't think so. But Patrick McEnroe believes tennis fans might be if there were some rhyme or reason to the competition's time and season. Just before departing for Paris and the Franco-American semifinals, the U.S. captain/TV commentator chatted with Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim about the tie and an assortment of other tennis issues.
Wertheim: Where are you now, anyway?
Patrick McEnroe: At Saddlebrook. Most of the boys are here practicing on clay before we head over to Paris.
Wertheim: Before we talk Davis Cup, any final thoughts on the U.S. Open?
McEnroe: I thought it was one of the best ever. [Andre] Agassi-[Lleyton] Hewitt was amazing. And then [Pete] Sampras, where the hell did that come from? I didn't see that coming, and I saw him play all summer. But once he got to the second week you knew it was like, Uh-oh. That match against [Greg] Rusedski, he didn't play well but he pulls it out, and then he got going. It was stunning. Stunningly spectacular.
Wertheim: Does your gut tell you Sampras is coming back next year?
McEnroe: I find it hard to believe he's not going to play again, but I know he's thinking about [retiring]. Honestly, I don't think he knows.
Wertheim: How disappointed are you that Pete declined to play Davis Cup this weekend? Obviously you would have loved to have him, but isn't it more than understandable that a few days after winning this emotional title, he's maybe not so psyched to turn right around and play on clay?
McEnroe: I totally understand where he's coming from. Would I have loved it if Pete and Andre both decided to play? Yeah. But realistically. ... Honestly, I thought there might have been a better chance [of them playing] if Andre had won. I don't blame the players, I blame the system. If Davis Cup was built up like a Slam, or built into the schedule, these guys would play. Just like they gear up to play the majors and the big tournaments, they'd gear up to play Davis Cup. They do this for the Slams because that's what the establishment is telling them is important. Right now, the tennis establishment isn't giving the weight, the import to the Davis Cup. It's just not.
Wertheim: If James Blake and Andy Roddick could pull it off --
McEnroe: Yeah, it could be huge. It would work great for tennis. I think it's all gonna work out. It's like Agassi and Sampras had their last run, it was awesome, a great Open. Now it's time for the younger guys to step up. I'm telling them, "Let's go. Let's do it. This is your team." It's a great opportunity for these guys.
Wertheim: In a perfect world, what's the Davis Cup format?
McEnroe: A four- to five-week event, with a Final Four-ish format and atmosphere for the last 10 days.
Wertheim: Played when?
McEnroe: Played at the end of the year, probably every other year.
Wertheim: How likely is this?
McEnroe: In my lifetime? In the immediate future, unlikely, but down the road I have to be somewhat positive, don't I?
Wertheim: Sure. What about what we always hear: "It's only the Americans who have a problem with Davis Cup. The rest of the tennis world is fine with it"?
McEnroe: Look, the competition does well, and people will show up in Paris. But as far as television and resonating worldwide? No. You wouldn't believe how many have come up to me and said, 'What's going on with Davis Cup? Who do you play this year?' People have no idea we're in the semifinals. I mean, we played three ties over the course of about five months [against India, Slovakia and Spain], and now we haven't played in almost six months. Also, it turns out that if we play either Russia or Argentina in the finals it will be away. But a lot of times, you don't know home or away for the next round. Then, if it turns out you're home, you have eight weeks to plan and market the event and find an arena. [Changing the format] is such a no-brainer that it's scary.
Wertheim: Say we change Davis Cup into the type of event you've described, a month-long blowout with a Final Four atmosphere at the end of the year. Are the players going to go along with this? Or do they say, "At the end of a grueling season, I don't have four weeks in me"?
McEnroe: Sure they would play. Those [Davis Cup] weeks would open up earlier in the year, so they wouldn't be as tired. Also, the money would be right, it would be a huge event, you'd know exactly when it would happen. Why not? And the television would be a huge package, too. Right now, CBS will go to the ITF or the USTA and say, "We want to televise Davis Cup, give us the dates and places." The response will be: "Oh, we can't right now. It depends on X, Y and Z." CBS will say: "Well, how can we televise it?"
Wertheim: What's your call on the other semifinal tie, by the way, Russia against Argentina?
McEnroe: On that surface [a lightning-fast indoor court] with [Guillermo] Ca–as out, you have think Russia has the edge. Then again, [Yevgeny] Kafelnikov hasn't exactly been knocking 'em dead.
Wertheim: If you guys win --
McEnroe: We're going to win.
Wertheim: Assuming you win, have you given any consideration to using Pete and/or Andre in the finals?
McEnroe: No. I never look ahead. We have too many players who are close, especially with doubles. There are injuries, there are different surfaces. Too much can happen.
Wertheim: I guess what I mean is, is the door still open for those guys to play the finals?
McEnroe: Sure. Let's be honest, when you're dealing with Sampras and Agassi, the door is always open.
The Tennis Refuge
You will be missed, Michel Kratochvil!