John McEnroe, to his credit, showed Andrew Murray no mercy, bamboozling the 17-year-old British junior 6-1 after only 24 minutes.
John McEnroe, to his credit, showed Andrew Murray no mercy, bamboozling the 17-year-old British junior 6-1 after only 24 minutes when Superset Tennis came to Wembley Arena yesterday.
Those, including McEnroe, who suggested that Murray was ready to play in the recent Davis Cup tie in Austria on the strength of his success in winning the US Open junior title, were wrong.
If McEnroe, at 45, was capable of outclassing Murray in a one-set gimmick event, you dread to think what the tour-hardened, 27-year-old Stefan Koubek would have done to the teenager's confidence in Portschach.
McEnroe, now a stalwart of the senior tour, had insisted he was still a match for anybody over one set, and Murray's lack of experience was exposed by the New Yorker's exquisite serve and volleying and ability to put his opponent under pressure when receiving serve.
Murray had the audacity to ask for an action replay of McEnroe's first serve of the contest, an ace. The "Hawkeye" monitoring system showed the serve was good. McEnroe then insisted on a replay of the second point, after his shot was called long. This time his shot was shown to have landed long. "That's inaccurate!" McEnroe said, smiling at the 8,000 sell-out crowd.
After that, he got down to the business of advancing to the semi-finals, with an eye on the £250,000 winner-takes-all prize. Murray, deputising for the injured Tim Henman, won his solitary game to love when serving to stay in the match 5-0 down. He then created a break point at 30-40 butMcEnroe saved it with a serve-and-volley.
McEnroe told Murray he had a great future, and Murray replied that it had been an honour to be on the same court.
The afternoon opened with the 31-year-old Greg Rusedski advancing to the semi-finals after defeating the 36-year-old Boris Becker, 11-10, winning the superset tie-break, 7-1. Becker held four match points at 6-5, only to lob a shot into the rigging for the lights on the first opportunity. Rusedski served away the second match point and saved the third with a forehand drive.
Goran Ivanisevic, 33, made a flying visit, losing to Tommy Robredo, of Spain, 11 years his junior, 6-4 - finishing with two double-faults - and Mario Ancic, Ivanisevic's Croatian compatriot, who defeated Tim Henman at Wimbledon, beat the American Robby Ginepri, 6-3.
Rusedski invited his friend Paul McKenna, the hypnotist, to sit beside him as his coach for the day. Perhaps McKenna convinced the British No 2 that he was Roger Federer. Or maybe he put the "hex" on Becker in the tie-break. "Yes," Rusedski smiled, "I think Paul stared in his eyes." McKenna apparently helps Rusedski rehabilitate after injuries by relaxing him.
The consensus was that there is a place in the sport for the concept of a one set per match tournament spiced with rock music. The competitors were also in favour of players being allowed to call for Hawkeye replays in matches on the ATP Tour.
Rusedski, asked if Hawkeye would work at Wimbledon, said: "I think it would be excellent. It's very quick, and there's no argument. I'd certainly be up for using it on the main tour."
Ivanisevic agreed. "Sometimes the players make mistakes, but the umpires make them, too. It's tough to see where the ball lands sometimes. Hawkeye doesn't take too much time. It takes 10 seconds." Ivanisevic did, however, have one reservation about the one-set format: "It should be a normal set, with a tie-break at six-all, not at 10-all. That's too many games."