YOU wait nearly quarter of a century for John McEnroe to return to Scotland - then he does it two years running.
Having competed in the Brodies Champions of Tennis tournament in Edinburgh last summer – his first time in the country since the Scottish Championships at Craiglockhart in 1989 – McEnroe has now confirmed that he will be back this June. Mark Philippoussis, Wayne Ferreira and Fabrice Santoro have also agreed to take part in this year’s Champions of Tennis, which will again be held at Raeburn Place from 19 to 22 June.
As is the case this year, the event, part of the ATP Champions Tour, took place just before Wimbledon, and McEnroe predicted that Andy Murray would win the singles crown. While pleased he got that one right, the American said yesterday he would wait until later in the year before offering an assessment of how Murray will fare in his defence of the title.
“Last year when I arrived into Scotland I said I think it very well could be Murray’s year – and look how that worked out,” said McEnroe, whose total of seven grand slam victories includes three Wimbledon wins. “I will wait to see how the next few months go pre-Wimbledon before I make my predictions. I had a great experience in Edinburgh and enjoyed playing in front of a Scottish crowd who were great fun, and we had some good banter. On the ATP Champions Tour we want to show we can still play, and I think people will be surprised at the level of tennis they see here.
“I love to play still. I love to get out on the court. I work out regularly and I like to try and show people that it can still be done.”
With the participation of Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Henri Leconte, Thomas Enqvist and Mansour Bahrami having been announced already, the line-up for this year’s event has now been finalised. The tournament begins on the evening of Thursday 19, when the match between Ferreira and Ivanisevic is followed by Enqvist and Leconte versus Henman and Santoro.
Enqvist, who won the inaugural singles event last year, gets his defence under way on Friday afternoon with a match against former Wimbledon and US Open finalist Philippoussis. That is followed by the clash between 2001 Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic and Santoro, whose easy-going demeanour and artful shot-making are expected to make him a favourite with the Scottish public.
There is a Friday evening session, then two more on Saturday morning and afternoon, before the event concludes on Sunday with a three-match session which culminates in the Brodies Champions of Tennis final.
Tournament director Viki Mendelssohn said yesterday that she was delighted by McEnroe’s agreement to come back to Edinburgh for this year’s event. “It is an absolute honour and pleasure to have John return to Edinburgh,” she said.
“He is one of the most recognisable figures in global sport and it is a rare chance for tennis fans in Scotland to get the opportunity to watch him and the other players. The event schedule has some great clashes such as McEnroe v Leconte, Ivanisevic v Santoro, Henman v Enqvist. And it is great to finalise our schedule and promote the event in full.”
To be eligible to compete on the full ATP Champions Tour, players must have been either a world No 1, a grand slam singles finalist, or a singles player in a victorious Davis Cup team. They must also have retired from the ATP circuit. Each tournament is also entitled to invite two players of its choice as wild cards.
Brodies Champions of Tennis has a three-year agreement to be part of the ATP Champions Tour.
There are 2,000 tickets available per session, with individual tickets starting at £30. Family tickets – for two adults and two children or one adult and three children – are also available, though in limited quantities. Full details are available from www.championsoftennis.com.