SAN JOSE, Calif. -- John McEnroe made a triumphant return to
the ATP Tour, teaming with Jonas Bjorkman to win his first match in
12 years, 6-3, 6-3 over Wayne Arthurs and Stephen Huss on Wednesday
night in a match that ended 19 minutes before McEnroe's 47th
"The old dog wanted to teach the young guys new tricks,''
McEnroe told the crowd before a birthday cake was wheeled out and
the fans sang "Happy Birthday.''
His hair grayer, his temper tamer and his opponents more
powerful, McEnroe still showed off some of the skills that helped
him win 77 career doubles titles as one of the game's greatest
He hit a forehand lob winner on break point to take a 2-1 lead
in the second set and then held his serve at love. He held at love
again at 4-3 before he and Bjorkman broke Arthurs' serve.
McEnroe got a standing ovation and waved to the crowd of 7,158
as he was introduced at a tournament he won five times in singles
and eight in doubles in his career.
He hit a volley winner on the first point of the match and held
his serve all four times despite having less power than the other
three players. He did serve up a 107 mph hour ace in the third game
and poached a return by Huss for another volley winner to make it
3-2. His fastest serve of the match was 119 mph.
McEnroe and Bjorkman advanced to the quarterfinals where they
will play Ashley Fisher and Tripp Phillips on Friday.
"One day, hopefully three to go,'' McEnroe said.
McEnroe became the first 46-year-old to win an ATP doubles match
since Mansour Bahrami teamed with Cedric Pioline to do it in
October 2002 in Basel, Switzerland.
McEnroe, who now plays on the Champions Tour for players 35 and
older, has not played an ATP event since February 1994, when he and
Boris Becker lost to Bjorkman and Jeremy Bates in the semifinals of
an event at Rotterdam.
McEnroe, who won 10 of his 17 Grand Slam titles in doubles, is
playing this event to try to give a boost to the declining state of
doubles. It worked for one night because thousands of fans stayed
almost until midnight to watch a first-round doubles match --
something that's usually unheard of.
The ATP has adopted a new doubles scoring system to help
generate interest. There are no ad-games in the first two sets and
if a match is tied at one set apiece, the teams will play a
tiebreaker to decide the match. The first pair to get 10 points,
with a two-point advantage, will win.
It took a while for McEnroe to get on court. The day session
lasted 11 hours, 4 minutes and third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt didn't
start the featured singles match of the night session until 9:20
Hewitt, playing his first match since injuring his left ankle in
a second-round loss to Juan Ignacio Chela at last month's
Australian Open, made quick work of former Stanford star Paul
Goldstein, winning 6-4, 6-2 in 58 minutes. Hewitt won 23 of the
final 28 points of the match, taking advantage of frequent errors
"The wait didn't fuss me too much,'' Hewitt said.
Bjorkman lost his singles match earlier to Dmitry Tursunov, who
came back to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round.
Vincent Spadea won the only second-round match of the day,
beating Travis Rettenmaier 6-2, 6-0. Spadea took advantage of the
injury to second-seeded Andre Agassi, who pulled out on the eve of
the tournament with a bad back.
Rettenmaier, a former star at UCLA, took Agassi's spot in the
tournament and beat Scoville Jenkins in the first round Monday
before losing to Spadea.
In other first-round matches Wednesday, Mark Philippoussis beat
fourth-seeded Tommy Robredo 3-6, 7-5, 7-5; Kristof Vliegen topped
Rainer Schuettler 6-3, 6-1; Kenneth Carlsen edged Lukas Dlouhy 3-6,
6-2, 6-1; and Arthurs defeated Bobby Reynolds 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.