Jim Courier stepped aside before Friday's PowerShares Series showdown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to talk about the ongoing champions tour, as well as a couple of his cohorts on it. Here are excerpts from that conversation, including the 43-year-old's high praise for Indy's PowerShares champion, John McEnroe, and his love for the series surface, however conveniently laid down by InsideOut Sports Entertainment, his own event production company.
About McEnroe, a relative spring chicken upon turning 55 Sunday:
"If I’m able to play at the level he’s playing when I’m in my 50s, I would be surprised. My style of tennis is just so much different from his; he plays an effortless style, and mine’s a grinder style. I’ll hope to be that lucky. The battle there is just as much with my body as anything else."
On McEnroe's PowerShares final in Birmingham the night before his victory in Indy:
"One of John’s beautiful things is that his game isn’t power based. He can absorb power and redirect it. You’ll see it tonight. It’s pretty remarkable what he’s able to do on the court. He lost last night to Andy Roddick, 7-5. He was in that, with a chance."
About the champions tour's gray surface, which seems almost a clay court masquerading as a hard court:
"This is not a fast court. It’s a pretty gritty, fairly slow hard court. This is one of my better surfaces."
On playing all these don't-call-them-exhibitions indoors:
"I like the controlled environment in this stage of my life."
Pertaining to the sweltering heat in Melbourne in January:
"The Aussie Open is a test. This year, I really felt for the guys and gals going out there and playing in 106, 107, 108 degrees. One photographer literally dropped an egg on the court, and it fried. It was borderline unhealthy. Hottest temperature I played in was 104. It was the finals against Stefan Edberg in 1993. They wanted to close the roof, and I wouldn’t let them. When Edberg walked on the court in a hat, I knew I had him. I toughed him out in four [sets], but it was brutal."
Offering kudos to Mark Philippoussis:
"When he’s on, he’s just unstoppable. He can just take the racquet out of your hands, when you’re serving, when he’s serving."
About the quippy-huckster aspect of PowerShares matches, as opposed to his professional playing days:
"If I had [a sense of humor], that would help. I show what I have. The key for this is to just be comfortable enough in your skin to know that you can interact with the crowd and then re-focus. It’s not going to cost you the next point. When you’re younger, you just don’t know that you have those capabilities, and so you stay inside of a much more narrow silo. Now you’ll see even Ivan [Lendl] cracking a joke, which is saying something."
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