Four years ago at the Royal Albert Hall, John McEnroe lost 11-9 in a final set Champions’ Tie-Break to Jeremy Bates, and decided that it was time to bow out of his favorite ATP Champions Tour event for good. But on Thursday, at the Statoil Masters Tennis, McEnroe avenged his defeat to Bates 6-4, 6-1 and knew that he had made the right decision to return to the event, which now sees an older ‘Legends’ tournament alongside Pat Cash, Henri Leconte and Mats Wilander.
“It’s incredible to play here, it’s the best spot on the Tour, and I thought I was done (four years ago),” said McEnroe afterwards. A couple of years away gave me some perspective, my legs felt healthier to let me get back here again, and I hope I can lift something up—a cup or a trophy—at the end. If I can have a bit of fun, compete still, play like I think I can and serve like I did today, it’s going to be pretty tough to beat me.”
Elsewhere, Henri Leconte produced a fabulous display to defeat Pat Cash 6-3, 6-2. Leconte faces Wilander on Friday, with McEnroe up against Guy Forget.