The iconic American also tossed his shirt into the crowd. (AP Photo)
INDIANAPOLIS - Self-proclaimed New York Knicks fan John McEnroe
posted an impressive "road win" in the arena of his NBA team's rival Indiana Pacers, impressively winning the PowerShares QQQ Challenge at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Friday with a 6-3 win over Jim Courier
in the one-set championship match.
The tournament victory is McEnroe's second in four PowerShares Series events this season and comes one night after he nearly defeated Andy Roddick, 24 years his junior, in a tight 7-5 loss in the event in Birmingham, Alabama. McEnroe, who also won the opening PowerShares Series event in Kansas City on February 5, has reached the final of all four PowerShares events so far this season.
McEnroe was greeted with roaring ovations throughout the night, perhaps the loudest after his win when he took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd. However, it didn't take long for the hearty Indianapolis crowd to turn on the native New Yorker and shower him with loud choruses of boos as McEnroe, in his post-match on-court interview with Tennis Channel's Brett Haber, said to the crowd "Thank you for rooting for a Knicks fan."
Haber then reminded McEnroe that he was playing in the shadow of the retired jersey of the great Indiana Pacer and New York Knick nemesis Reggie Miller.
"That's an ugly looking thing up there," McEnroe then said, pointing to Miller's retired No. 31 in the rafters of the arena as the booing became even louder, mixed in with cackles of laughter. McEnroe tried to end the boos by propping up the Pacers and their fans saying "Listen, they are doing way better than we are" saying his beloved Knicks are "50 games below .500."
Just two days before his 55th birthday, McEnroe continued his recent run of throw-back-the-clock form, unloading on aggressive forehand and backhand drives mixed in with his trademark serve-and volley finesse - and chasing down balls in the corners and the forecourt like a thirty-something. He reeled off a stretch of 14 straight points on his serve to end the title match with Courier, winning three love games on serve to close out the championship. The match turned in McEnroe's favor with Courier serving at 1-2, 30-15 when McEnroe hit a delicately-perfect backhand drop shot winner for 30-30, then hit a down-the-line backhand return-of-serve winner before breaking serve when Courier could not run around his forehand fast enough, mis-hitting his shot wide. McEnroe then reeled off four winners in a row - connecting on a stretch of six winners in seven points - to take the commanding 4-1 lead. McEnroe even outhit Courier on the forehand wing on occasion, displaying some traces of the form that he showed off 30 years ago when he completed one of the most dominant seasons in tennis history, posting a 82-3 record with dominant wins in the U.S. Open and Wimbledon finals.
In the semifinals earlier in the night. McEnroe beat long-time rival Ivan Lendl
6-4 for the third time in four PowerShares events this season. Courier beat Mark Philippoussis 7-5 in the other semifinal.
With the tournament win, McEnroe widens his lead atop the PowerShares Series points rankings securing 400 points to increase his total to 1200 points. Courier, who beat McEnroe to win the title in Oklahoma City on February 6, stays in second place with 800 points. Birmingham champion Andy Roddick ranks third with 400 points. Michael Chang and Ivan Lendl, with 300 points, are tied for fourth and Mark Philippoussis rounds out the rankings with 200 points.
The PowerShares Series, the U.S. tennis circuit for legend tennis players over the age of 30, continues Wednesday, February 19 in Denver, Colorado when James Blake makes his PowerShares Series debut and joins Courier, Roddick and Philippoussis in the field. Good tickets for all PowerShares Series events are still available starting at $25 at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. VIP packages - including meet-and-greet and play-with-the-pros on-court opportunities - are also available here http://www.powersharesseries.com/vip-experiences/, by email to VIP@insideoutse.com, or by phone at 253.315.4299.
The remaining 2014 Power Shares Series schedule with field of players are as follows:
Wednesday, February 19, Denver, Pepsi Center - Andy Roddick, James Blake, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis
Thursday, February 20, Houston, Toyota Center - Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake
Tuesday, February 25, Salt Lake City, Energy Solutions Arena - Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Wednesday, February 26, Sacramento, Sleep Train Arena - Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Thursday, February 27, Portland, Moda Center - Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake
Wednesday, March 12, Nashville, Bridgestone Arena - John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash
Thursday, March 13, Charlotte, Time Warner Arena - John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Pat Cash
Friday, March 21, Surprise, Surprise Stadium - Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Michael Chang