'You cannot be serious': McEnroe to call his own lines

Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:58pm EDT
 
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Tennis legend John McEnroe faces James Blake on Wednesday in a match in which they will call their own lines - declaring whether the ball is in or out - a wrinkle that McEnroe knows may draw more than casual interest from fans and former linesmen.

During a career in which he won seven grand slam singles titles, McEnroe was known as a sometimes volatile player who periodically berated linesmen over what he saw as blown calls. "You cannot be serious," he once yelled in a famous tirade over a line call.

"I'm sure there will be some umpires out there that will be saying, 'See, it wasn't as easy as you thought it was,'" McEnroe, 56, told Reuters. "It's undoubtedly true."

He added, "Who would want a job where the only way you get recognized is if you made a mistake?"

McEnroe will take on Blake, 35, once ranked fourth in the world, as part of the PowerShares Series for former champions over age 30. Andy Roddick faces Jim Courier in the other match in Lincoln, Nebraska, with the winners meeting for the title. The matches are just one set.

There are unlimited challenges, to be decided by the Hawk-Eye computer used on the pro tour, but McEnroe insists no player wants to make a bad call against his opponent. The last time McEnroe called his own lines in a match was as a junior player.

"I would be mortified if someone accused me of cheating," McEnroe said. "I often played balls that I'm pretty damn sure were three, four, six inches out because I didn't want the guy to call me a cheater."

Thursday's event is the third on the 12-city PowerShares series tour. McEnroe did not play the opening two events.   Continued...

 
John McEnroe of the U.S. serves the ball to compatriot Ivan Lendl during their BNP Paribas Showdown tennis friendly match in Hong Kong March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu