CHARLOTTE, N.C.—John McEnroe captured his fourth title on the 2014 PowerShares Series tennis circuit Thursday defeating Ivan Lendl 7-6 (5) in a hotly-contested one-set final at the Time Warner Cable Arena, highlighted by a 10-minute line-call argument free-for-all at the tail end of the tie-breaker. The culprit of the on-court chaos, however, was Lendl and, surprisingly, not McEnroe, known as perhaps the most argumentative athlete in the world.
After McEnroe failed to capitalize on three match point opportunities on Lendl's serve at 4-5, McEnroe began to grow visibly frustrated at not being able to close out the match. "Come on!" he growled in raging anger after netting a backhand return to give Lendl a 4-3 lead in the decisive tie-breaker. On the next point, the left-handed three-time Wimbledon champion sliced an ace out wide by his Czech-born rival. Lendl saw the ball out and engaged in a long drawn out argument with the female linesperson and veteran ATP chair umpire Dana Loconto over the call. As Lendl sat in the back of the court arguing with the linesperson, McEnroe paraded around on and off the court, posing for selfie photographs with fans seated in the front row and riling up the crowd.
As Lendl's stalling approached 10 minutes, Loconto awarded McEnroe a penalty point for delay of game. However, after Lendl held a courtside discussion with Jon Venison, managing partner of the PowerShares Series, the point penalty was rescinded and play continued. McEnroe then won three of the next four points — all on Lendl errors — to close out the match.
In his post-match on-court interview with Jimmy Arias from the Tennis Channel, McEnroe was asked how the shoe felt on the other foot, the difficulty of playing against an opponent who complains so long over a line call.
"I loved it," McEnroe shouted with happy enthusiasm in response. "Now I know what it is like. It was outstanding. I got to have some fun, talk to some people. Take some pictures. It was awesome. He melted down and I pulled it out."
The night was a perfect end to McEnroe's 2014 PowerShares Series season, one night after beating Pat Cash in the final of the event in Nashville, Tennessee to clinch the season-long tour points title for the first time in his career. In his nine tournaments played on the 12-city tour, the 55-year-old McEnroe won four titles (Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte) and reached four finals (Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Salt Lake City and Sacramento) and came within points of beating newly-retired American tennis stars James Blake and Andy Roddick in one-set matches. His win over Lendl was his sixth in seven career matches on the PowerShares Series, the U.S. circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. In their ATP careers, McEnroe lost 21 of 36 matches to the Czech, including their last six meetings.
Earlier in the night in the semifinals, McEnroe again defeated another arch rival of his, Jimmy Connors, for the second-straight night by a 6-4 margin in the first meetings between the two American tennis legends since 1999. At the end of the match, McEnroe also nearly landed a body serve right into the groin of Connors, McEnroe turning away from his former most insufferable rival after the shot, but the live camera shot on the big-screen TV above the court showing McEnroe privately snickering with laughter to himself.
"I was trying that for 35 years," McEnroe quipped to Arias in his post-match interview of near debilitating serve to the 61-year-old Connors.
After failing to convert on a match points against Cash in a 7-6 (7) loss in the semifinals of Nashville Wednesday night, Lendl avenged the loss to the Australian in dramatic fashion in the other semifinal, coming back from 6-2 down in the tie-breaker, and saving five match points, to beat Cash also by a 7-6 (7) margin.
With one PowerShares Series event left on the schedule, McEnroe has 1600 ranking points, an insurmountable lead in the rankings that count a player's best four tournament results, awarding 400 points for winning a tournament, 200 for a runner-up showing and 100 points for losing in the semifinals. The current PowerShares Series rankings are as follows:
1. John McEnroe - 1600 points
2. James Blake - 1200 points
3. Andy Roddick - 900 points
4. Andre Agassi - 800 points
Jim Courier - 800 points
6. Ivan Lendl - 500 points
7. Michael Chang - 300 points
Mark Philippoussis - 300 points
Pat Cash - 300 points
10. Pete Sampras - 200 points
Jimmy Connors - 200 points
The PowerShares Series concludes its 12-city tour next Friday, March 21 in Surprise, Arizona when Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang and Todd Martin compete in the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships Presented By Sanderson Ford and Lincoln. For ticket information, vist www.PowerSharesSeries.com.