Tennis: Henman told by McEnroe to be meaner
Tuesday 09 December 1997
Last week McEnroe told Britain's No 2 that he was "too nice" and needed to add meanness to his developing game. And following a long chat and 30-minute practice session with the 38-year-old McEnroe at the Royal Albert Hall's ATP Seniors Event last weekend, Henman agrees.
"I am very competitive but sometimes my demeanour is maybe too calm on court," Henman said. "I can show more emotion and McEnroe implied that if I let my inner feelings out a bit more it could help me. Any time you get advice from someone who has achieved what he has you should listen."
If it means the 23-year-old Oxfordshire player has to lose his ``Mr Wonderful'' tag in order to become the first Briton since Fred Perry 61 years ago to win Wimbledon, then so be it.
"I couldn't give a monkey's what people think about me. I want to achieve on a tennis court. If people were against me and didn't like me but I was winning major championships, I'd take that any day of the week," said Henman, who was speaking at the Midland Bank Schools Tennis finals in Telford, yesterday.
"You're not going to see me swearing or breaking rackets during matches but to go to the very, very top I have to be more consistent and if I can be more aggressive that will probably help."
But while Henman is eager to learn from the sport's most controversial and colourful character, he disagrees with McEnroe's assertion that today's players don't have enough desire.
He rejects McEnroe's boast that the Borg-Connors-McEnroe battles of the late 70s and early 80s were the golden era of tennis. "The overall depth in the game is much more now than in McEnroe's day," said Henman, who rose to No 17 in the world this year but saw Greg Rusedski pass him to become Britain's top player and world No 6.
"In 1980 there weren't more than a handful of potential winners of the major tournaments. In 1997, 20, 30 or even 40 guys could easily win the top events."
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