The year McEnroe mauled Britain's Davis Cup hopes

Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:16pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The tennis world was already abuzz with the name John McEnroe well before Britain arrived to play the United States in the 1978 Davis Cup final in the Californian desert.

He had, after all, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals the year before as an 18-year-old qualifier, losing to Jimmy Connors, and repeated the feat at the 1978 U.S. Open.

But the wild-eyed left-hander had never been exposed to a Davis Cup singles rubber for the U.S. and eyebrows were raised when he ousted Arthur Ashe from the team to face Britain -- who had reached their first final since their heady days of 1936.

Not only that but McEnroe was drawn to play the opening rubber of the tie at Mission Hills against Britain's John Lloyd.

Lloyd's team mate Mark Cox, who was to lose the doubles with David Lloyd, remembers what followed vividly from the safety of his position on the court-side bench.

"I remember we were all quite excited to be facing McEnroe; he was the new young kid on the block," Cox, who will be watching in Belgium next week when Britain try to win the title for the first time since 1936, told Reuters.

"I thought he might be tight, maybe a bit nervous. But he served an ace on the first point. Kind of launched himself into the fray in quite spectacular fashion.

"He came out all guns blazing."   Continued...

John McEnroe of the U.S. reacts after winning a point during his BNP Paribas Showdown friendly tennis match against compatriot Ivan Lendl in Hong Kong March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu