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McENROE, PILLAR OF DECORUM
Richard Yallop
February 04, 1991
There were tantrums at the Australian Open, but they weren't thrown by up-and-coming Patrick McEnroe
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February 04, 1991

Mcenroe, Pillar Of Decorum

There were tantrums at the Australian Open, but they weren't thrown by up-and-coming Patrick McEnroe

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With his baby face, Patrick can effectively do the orphan routine. Becker may have won the men's singles, but McEnroe won the charm title, which is no small feat, considering that just 12 months earlier his volatile brother had landed himself on Melbourne's Most Wanted list after being disqualified from the tournament after verbally abusing the tournament supervisor, Ken Farrar. Now Patrick, with his teddy bear appeal, was everyone's nominee for Mr. Nice Guy. Said Patrick, "I was obviously disappointed at what happened to John here last year, as everyone in my family was. It was tough for me to take, but coming here I didn't think about it at all."

Instead he focused on staying calm in his matches. "I realize who I am, and the position I'm in," said Patrick. It's beneficial to me to be as composed as I can."

He reaped his benefits right from the start. He won his first-round match against Thomas Hogstedt of Sweden from two sets down, and he received an additional bravery citation for his five-set quarterfinal win over Cristiano Caratti of Italy, against whom he strained a back muscle in the second set and played the remainder of the match with a back brace. At the end he buried his head in a towel, savoring a personal milestone.

As the press began to take note, Patrick patiently covered old ground. He had started playing because he loved tennis and competing. "I didn't want to play because of John," he said, "and I didn't want not to play because of him."

Like John, he had been coached by Tony Palafox, though it was John who suggested he move his hands together for his two-handed backhand. Also like John, he attended Stanford, but while his brother left after one year, Patrick graduated. Patrick joined the tour and made his name as a doubles player, winning the French Open and Masters titles with Jim Grabb in 1989. (Last week in Melbourne, he and David Wheaton reached the finals, where they lost to Scott Davis and David Pate in four sets.) In the past year he worked on speed and conditioning. "I've never had the talent or speed, so I knew I had to work harder," said Patrick. "It's nice to know the dedication I've had the past year has paid off. After this I'll work even harder."

While in his prime John had dancing feet and shotmaking skills that could soar to places never before seen. Patrick's feet are planted firmly on the ground. Less aggressive than John, he has a rather conventional game—a semiwestern forehand, a workmanlike serve and a deceptive double-fisted backhand. But in Australia, he was mighty effective. He was plain, punchy and smart. And a lot more popular than big brother.

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