SAP OPEN 2012
McEnroe Hails Djokovic, Tennis' Golden Era
New York, U.S.A.
by James Buddell|
Speaking at a tennis academy, in New York, on Wednesday, McEnroe said, "Djokovic has lifted his game to a point where I think his return has now maybe surpassed [Andre] Agassi. It used to be [Jimmy] Connors and Agassi. Now it's like beyond belief, what [Djokovic] can do with the return."
Djokovic captured his fifth Grand Slam championship title as he defeated No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in five hours and 53 minutes - the longest major championship final on record - at the Australian Open on Sunday. Read Match Report
"He's much more elastic," said McEnroe. "I noticed years ago, how flexible he was and how hard he worked on it. I thought to myself, 'This is going to pay off.' I didn't realise to what extent and [how big an] advantage this would be. I think it's something that has to be considered very seriously by other players, because there is lost more balls being hit with an open stance, off the back foot.
"I think his forehand is one of the biggest shots in the game, and his backhand has become better. [It] doesn't seem like a whole lot of things are going to go wrong."
McEnroe believes men's professional tennis is presently in a golden era, with the Top 4 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings - Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray - all posting deep runs at the major championships.
"I think it's an incredible time, actually," said McEnroe. I think we [had] better enjoy it while it lasts. The shots that these guys can come up with ... is phenomenal. They've taken the baseline game to a whole new level.
"Roger is 30 now, and he's still playing pretty amazingly well. Murray played the best match I had ever seen him play even though he lost it [against Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals]. Those guys, sort of get into these war of wills, where they're just going to sort of break each other until one of them literally falls over."
When asked about the next generation of young talent on the ATP World Tour, McEnroe said, "I see Bernard Tomic and I see Milos at the moment with the greatest up side. I think Ryan [Harrison] is going to be an excellent player as well, but these guys have that extra gear it appears.
"Bernard sort of plays his own game, but Milos, to me, has an incredible chance to do something really big in tennis. I feel like he's making some great progress. I think he's definitely going to have a chance to win majors if he can continue to add to his game."
McEnroe won seven Grand Slam championships during his career. The 52-year-old American clinched his 78th doubles title with Jonas Bjorkman at the SAP Open in 2006.
From 13-16 March, McEnroe will play an ATP Champions Tour event in Stockholm.