John McEnroe has announced he’s planning a doubles comeback in
February, partnering highly-rated Swede Jonas Bjorkman in the San Jose
Open. Some critics think he’s just going through the motions, letting
himself be a walking promo for a new scoring system on the doubles
circuit, but Crikey asked one of Australia’s doubles legends – and
McEnroe’s former doubles partner – Mark Woodforde, what he thought of
the 46-year-old New Yorker’s chances on the circuit. Woody had this to
say:

I have different views on Mac playing the doubles in San
Jose. It’s a decent event to play because it doesn’t always contain the
top line doubles pairings in the field – a plus for him & JB
(Bjorkman). It’s also indoors – another big plus.

He’s paired with one of the best around in doubles at the moment. JB
owns a lethal return of serve which sets up Mac to do what he does best
around the net – another plus.

Most of the guys he’ll come up against have never hit with him, let
alone played against him and so his aura will be overwhelming, most of
the guys will probably sh*t themselves – that’s a plus.

Mac says it’s to draw attention to the doubles game – another big
plus. Yet what if he & JB do well? Mac will expect to win the
tournament and so it creates a media blitz, but what does it say for
the depth of men’s doubles then, if he does win?

A mid-40 year old, long time retired, no doubt the greatest doubles
player in his time, returns to the professional ranks and beats
guys/teams who play week in & week out. Is that good publicity for
doubles or does it simply highlight the depth of doubles regressing
further?

In his heyday, McEnroe won five single titles and eight doubles crowns
at San Jose. Will he add to it? Or more importantly, will he and
Martina Navratilova form the next all-conquering mixed doubles team?

Peter Fray

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