being all the rage in New York City, it was only natural that John McEnroe
would take the Grand Prix Masters into his own hands and save tennis from that
fearful gang of blue-eyed baseliners threatening to take over the sport. Swede
I. Blam! Swede II. Blam! A Czech? How'd he get in there? Beat a Swede? Oh.
Lendl—McEnroe presumably already has after beating him 7-5, 6-0, 6-4 in the
final on Sunday for his sixth victory over Lendl in their last seven meetings.
Excepting his dramatic collapse against Lendl in the French Open last summer,
McEnroe has now won 18 of their last 19 sets. This Masters, however, should
better be recalled as the week an avenging Johnny Mac—"Remember
G�teborg!" was obviously etched into his brain—turned into Swedebuster.
The multitude of
Swedish players swarming about the premises served only as a reminder of the
humiliation they inflicted upon the U.S. Davis Cup team last month in that
city. Why even the tournament sponsor, Volvo, is Swedish, as is the Masters
trophy, a striking crystal creation of Kosta Boda, the world-famous glassmaker.
At times in New York it seemed as if the only Swedish players who weren't in
the 12-man draw were Bjorn Borg, Kosta and Boda.
In fact, just four
young fellows from the land of the midnight topspin were at the Garden: Mats
Wilander, 20, and Henrik Sundstrom, 20, who in G�teborg whipped Connors and
McEnroe, respectively; Anders Jarryd, 23, who partnered Stefan Edberg, 18, in
the Cup-clinching doubles win over McEnroe and Peter Fleming; and Joakim
Nystrom, 21, a towheaded non-team member from Skelleftea, which is only 125
miles below the Arctic Circle and only 25 degrees below zero. The only reason
Edberg, who could be the most talented of them all, failed to qualify for the
tropics was that Wilander knocked him out of the points race in the Australian
If the Masters
signified the arrival of the Swedish Armada, it also marked the first real
Davis Cup confrontation of 1985: U.S. vs. U.S. To refresh the memories, of
those whose holiday appetites may have been spoiled by the pitiable and
graceless performance of the motley American crew in its 4-1 loss in Sweden:
McEnroe complained about everything from the dates of the tie to the building
and the court, and Connors topped/bottomed most previous lunacies perpetrated
by himself and even McEnroe in his abuse of anything that breathed. He was
penalized, fined $2,000 and nearly disqualified.
McEnroe and U.S.
team captain Arthur Ashe by now can barely stomach each other—"You talk to
me only if I talk to you first," Mac had been heard to tell Ashe on court
during a previous Cup match—and in Sweden the Ashe-Connors relationship,
alternately tenuous and stormy in the past, broke apart completely. On one
occasion, when a mix-up in communications caused Ashe and Jimmy Arias, who lost
a meaningless match to Sundstrom, to keep Connors waiting at G�teborg's
Scandinavium Stadium for nearly an hour, Jimbo wrote —— OFF, ARTIE with his
racket in the clay. Then he left in a huff. As for how McEnroe and Connors feel
about each other, only a sadist would invite them to the same country—unless
the price was right.
The upshot of all
this was a letter written on Dec. 21 to the U.S. Tennis Association from Harry
Merlo, CEO of Louisiana-Pacific, which sponsors the U.S. squad. In his missive
Merlo demanded "civil behavior" from U.S. team members. "We fail
badly when it comes to living up to minimum behavior standards on the
court," he wrote. "Abusive language, gestures...abuse of rackets, balls
and courtside accessories.... All such irresponsible and immature behavior
should not be tolerated." Merlo threatened to withdraw support unless
"constructive changes" were effected, including a "code of
conduct," which he suggested should include a dress code. (Media
suggestion: white coats with lots of snaps and locks, lead boots and rep ties
with removable soap, the easier to wash out everybody's mouth.)
could care less about the team aspects of the Davis Cup—his agent, the
ubiquitous Donald Dell, had persuaded Jimbo to join the Cup squad to boost his
"image"—McEnroe has been feasting off his "superpatriot"
reputation for a long time. Nonetheless, Mac's showing up in Sweden four days
before the tie to practice on the dread clay after a six-week layoff wasn't
exactly tantamount to a commitment in stone. On the other hand, why should any
red-blooded American lad be expected to go off slaving amid the northern lights
when waiting at home all cozy and cuddled up in mousse-infested locks
is...yes!...Ta...turn...O...Neal. Alas, fans, all those unimpeachable sources
were correct all along because it was right there in the New York Post as well
as in living ocher and chartreuse, these being the approximate colors of
Tatum's hair and scarf, respectively, at the Masters.
"What does she
do, shampoo in taco sauce?" inquired one obviously insanely Connors' antics
were not noticeably balanced jealous former suitor. Well, Tatum just showed up
one night and marched in, squired by Mac's new beard, none other than Ahmad
("Back to you, Bob Costas, or do I go long?") Rashad, and inspiring the
very vision of a Cyndi Lauper gone straight. Those Little Darlings, Mac and
Tate, have already begun sharing heart, soul and West Side triplex apartment,
resulting in the previously unthinkable: Johnny Mac may be the future
aside, circuit insiders report that during his 21-day suspension from the game
before G�teborg, McEnroe forgot all about tennis and discovered Show Biz. Dates
with Alana Stewart, Rod's ex. Parties with Randy Newman. Their conversation
allegedly went: McEnroe: "How much did you make from I Love L.A.?"
Newman: "About $150,000." McEnroe: "What? I don't get out of bed
for $150,000!" Then, a meeting with the Bad News Bear herself.