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That Time 59 Year Old McEnroe Gave a Ranked Player A Match

John McEnroe: Tennis Legend and Maverick

In the annals of tennis history, few names shine as brightly as John McEnroe. Known not only for his transcendent tennis talents but also his fiery on-court demeanor, McEnroe is a figure whose legacy transcends the sport itself.

Summary of John McEnroe’s Storied Career

  • Early Life and Rise to Fame: The beginnings of a tennis icon.
  • Grand Slam Glory: McEnroe’s major tournament successes.
  • Fiery Persona: A look into his infamous on-court outbursts.
  • Post-Playing Career: McEnroe’s ventures beyond professional tennis.
  • Legacy: The lasting impact of McEnroe on tennis and sports at large.

1. Early Life and Rise to Fame

Born in 1959 in Wiesbaden, Germany, and raised in Queens, New York, McEnroe’s tennis journey began early. With an innate talent, he quickly rose through the junior ranks, eventually winning the Junior French Open and Wimbledon titles in 1977.

2. Grand Slam Glory

McEnroe’s Grand Slam record speaks volumes of his dominance. He won seven major titles:

  • Wimbledon: Clinched the coveted trophy three times.
  • US Open: Triumphed on his home turf four times.

His matches, particularly against arch-rivals like Björn Borg, are stuff of tennis folklore, with their 1980 Wimbledon final being hailed as one of the greatest matches ever played.

3. Fiery Persona

While his skills were undeniable, McEnroe was equally well-known for his passionate and often explosive demeanor on court. His frequent clashes with umpires and the catchphrase, “You cannot be serious!”, became synonymous with his name. This emotional intensity, though controversial, was also a testament to his deep passion for the game.

4. Post-Playing Career

After retiring, McEnroe seamlessly transitioned to commentary and broadcasting, where his sharp insights and candid nature made him a favorite among viewers. Beyond tennis, he’s also tried his hand at talk shows, music, and has been actively involved in charitable efforts.

5. Legacy

McEnroe’s impact on tennis is immeasurable. He not only elevated the sport with his sublime skills but also brought it into mainstream conversations with his larger-than-life personality. Today, young players still look up to him, not just for his legendary matches but also for his relentless passion for the game.

That Time 59 Year Old McEnroe Gave a Ranked Player A Match

This was a few years back at this point in 2018, but something I wanted to write a short history on.  I believe it speaks to the uniqueness of John McEnroe’s game and his talent and fitness at the age of nearly 60. Watching it, you could see the athletic ability had long since left him, but the craftiness of his game and IQ were clearly apparent. His ability at the net was something that still could give him a chance to make the court smaller.

It was also clear as mentioned on the broadcast the players of the current generation that had just recently moved on to the “Senior” Tour had never really faced player like him in the age of western grips. They mentioned that he had previously given players like Andy Roddick test as well who at the time was still only 34 years old. Roddick had to go to 7-5 to beat McEnroe that night. This was also after multiple years of meetings on the PowerShare Tour where he had chances to play him and adjusted to a player that grew up playing with wood rackets and had such a flat forehand and impeccable volleying skills. He had his chance to come up with a different gameplan and still had a competitive match.

Tommy Haas did not.  Haas was ranked #272 in the world just a month prior to playing McEnroe despite not having played in 10 months. He was still officially ranked #402 in the world when they played and just 9 months removed from beating #5 Roger Federer at the time as well. 

Haas who was recently retired at 40 years old would eventually figure out McEnroe and win the match at 7-5 but it was not easy he certainly didn’t walk over him and it was evident McEnroe’s unique style was foreign to him and was causing a lot of the issues. For those that think it may have been stagged watching it I certainly didn’t get that impression.  There was actually talk shortly after that, about McEnroe coming out of retirement to play in French Open doubles as well as playing Serena who was still at the top. After seeing him play a few times at this age either would have been must-see TV for me.  I think he still had enough at that point to compete.

It’s unfortunate the match was never uploaded to you tube as it played on Fox Sports multiple times, but here is 57 year old Mac playing 33 year old Roddick in the same series you can get a sense of how he was still moving around the same time. McEnroe was asked at 58 years old what he’d rank in the world and he said about 1200th which is probably some decent self-awareness. He went on to say he played at a club with 38 professionals, some high end juniors etc. In saying that, he was kind of also saying he could still compete, but he likely has a great grasp on his abilities in comparison to actually playing guys on the spectrum as well as watching so much tennis.

The only tour level examples I have found where someone this old beat a good player really are Thomas Muster returning at 43 years old. ?Leonardo Mayer who was 23 years old and ranked 119th at time and would go on to have a nice career peaking at 21st. That was less than a month before Muster?s 44th birthday. Ken Rosewall would play until 1980 at the age of 46 going 3-3 that season including beating #49 Butch Waits, #82 Tim Wilkinson. I hold that in less regard though given the equipment and it being a less modern game.


Q: How many Grand Slams did John McEnroe win in total? A: John McEnroe won a total of seven Grand Slam singles titles.

Q: Was John McEnroe’s temperament always confrontational? A: While known for his on-court outbursts, off-court, many describe McEnroe as thoughtful and introspective.

Q: What endeavors has McEnroe pursued beyond tennis? A: Beyond tennis, McEnroe has been involved in broadcasting, music, and even hosted a talk show for a brief period.

In Conclusion

John McEnroe is a beacon in the world of tennis. His incredible talent, combined with his unabashed passion, has solidified his place as a true legend. His story serves as an inspiration and a testament to what unwavering commitment to one’s craft can achieve.

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