John McEnroe comes under fire at US Open for repeating Wimbledon controversy
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John McEnroe has upset tennis fans once more by playing down the significance of one of Carlos Alcaraz’ opponents at the US Open. The No. 1 seed faced Italian Matteo Arnaldi in the Round of 16, whom the Spaniard was able to overcome in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Currently ranked as the world No. 61, Arnaldi will enter the top 50 for the first time in his career at the end of the Grand Slam event. But that didn’t stop McEnroe, who missed the start of the tournament with Coronavirus, from referring to the 22-year-old during his match with Alcaraz as “a complete unknown”.
The comment quickly drew criticism from observers on social media. @TickTockTennis wrote on X: “Ah, good. JMac is back from his COVID break. But, don’t worry, he didn’t use that time to do any research. Just referred to Arnaldi as “a complete unknown.”
“Matteo Arnaldi is #61 in the world with wins over Jiri Lehecka, Cam Norrie, and Casper Ruud this year.”
@david_ftlaudy added: “It was so nice during week 1 to not have him around. He adds nothing for me. For some reason the producers think we need to hear him or it’s just not a legit mens match.”
@RMarsonet added: “Ha ha ha typical Johnny. Unless you are a top 10 player, you might as well not play tennis,” while @USTennisCenter wrote: “Hate how so many of these commentators know nothing about guys transitioning from Challengers and basically outside of the top 50.”
McEnroe is well acquainted with rubbing people up the wrong way, even long after his controversial playing career came to an end.
During Wimbledon, he received heavy criticism for earning more than £100,000 per week for his BBC punditry on the All England Club tournament, raking in considerably more than Martina Navratilova did in a similar broadcasting role.
During the two weeks at SW19, he made a comment along the same lines as Arnaldi about 25th seed Nicolas Jerry who was also matched up against Alcaraz. McEnroe said: “We don’t know Jarry but we’ll get to know him.”
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The comment drew disapproval from Australian tennis player John Millman, who Tweeted: “How a commentator can say “we don’t know Jarry but we’ll get to know him” is beyond ridiculous. 87 million people play tennis worldwide and this guy is the 28th best at it currently.”
McEnroe is not likely to be overly concerned by the criticism he has received, however. The outspoken star has never been left wanting for a contentious comment and seems unlikely to change anytime soon.
The 64-year-old once claimed that 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams would “be like 700 in the world” if she played on the men’s tennis tour, although the American did attempt to balance his comment by saying that she was the “greatest women’s player in history”.
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