McEnroe Still In Search Of First Outback Champions Series Title in Final Year Of Competitive Tournament Tennis
NAPLES, Fla., March 16, 2008 – Todd Martin defeated John McEnroe 6-3, 6-1 last Sunday to win the singles title at the $150,000 The Oliver Group Champions Cup — the opening event on the 2008 Outback Champions Series tennis circuit. Martin, who finished 2007 as the No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series, earned $50,000 for the victory and also gained 700 ranking points to make him the early leader in the 2008 Stanford Champions Rankings. McEnroe earned $32,000 and 600 ranking points with the runner-up showing.
Trophy watch: Dear Outback organizers, instead of your ho-hum crystal trophy (made with some precious material, I’m sure) might I suggest a crystal cow, cowboy, or a t-bone steak instead? Let’s mix it up a little!
Read: the rest of the tournament write-up after the cut…
The Naples title was Martin’s third Outback Champions Series tournament victory – all coming at the expense of McEnroe. Martin beat McEnroe in the final of the 2006 Champions Cup Boston as well as in the final of the 2007 International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I.
“I felt I had an honorable first set and a half,” said McEnroe, 49, of the final. “I thought I was hitting the ball well but missed my chances. I also didn’t get a good handle on break points in the first set. When I miss a point that I feel I should get and don’t — that is frustrating. I had a few break points and missed them.”
McEnroe, playing in his final year of competitive tournament tennis, fell one match shy of his goal of winning his first Outback Champions Series event. Earlier this week, McEnroe said that 2008 would be his final year of competitive tournament tennis. “Definitely,” said McEnroe when asked if this was his final year. “I can’t keep on going just winning half of my matches.”
Said Martin of McEnroe and his contributions to tennis since he turned professional 30 years ago in 1978, “John has been very much the face of our sport. John is such an amazing talent. It is the difference between the type of talent of Michael Jordan had and Charles Barkley. Though Barkley was a great player, Jordan was so graceful and made everything happen. The way John played the game is so artistic and gifted. It is a joy to watch.”
Martin, 37, only advanced into the championship match by virtue of his straight-set win over Jim Courier on Saturday that enabled him to win a three-way tie breaker between himself, Courier and Aaron Krickstein -– all three players finishing with 2-1 round robin records. Martin won the three-way tie-breaker by virtue of losing the least amount of sets between the three players in round-robin play. McEnroe finished round-robin play with a 3-0 record, beating Jimmy Arias, Mikael Pernfors, and Magnus Larsson.
With his 700 ranking points earned during his week in Naples, Martin already has a leg up on defending his year-end No. 1 ranking that he earned last year on the Outback Champions Series. This year, however, the year-end No. 1 on the Stanford Champions Rankings will earn a $100,000 bonus. Martin said he liked the added element to the year-long competition.
“(The $100,000 bonus) is good incentive for the Outback Champions Series,” said Martin. “Last year I played five tournaments, which was more than I thought I was going to play, and this year I am planning on playing six tournaments.”
In Sunday’s third-place match, Courier defeated Pernfors 6-2, 6-2.