50-Year-Old McEnroe Beats Courier to Claim Seniors Rio Title

Posted on March 15, 2009

John McEnroe is proving that he is getting better with age. The 50-year-old three-time Wimbledon champion completed a perfect week of tennis Sunday by defeating Jim Courier 6-2, 6-3 to win the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup at the HSBC Arena. The title was McEnroe's third career tournament victory on the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

With his win, McEnroe also earned 800 ranking points to take over the No. 1 ranking on the Outback Champions Series from Pete Sampras.

"They talk about the age, but nowadays in the U.S., 50 is the new 40," said McEnroe of his half-century status. "We find ways to be in better physical shape and I was feeling good today. I saw the other guys who are younger and how they were with their backs, calves, knees hurt and here I am, happy that I am standing. I know that if I were doing what I was doing today, when I was playing the pro tour, being serious about my physical conditioning, I could have won many more titles in my career."

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, jumped on Courier early, breaking him in the second game of the match, while breaking the two-time French and Australian Open champion again in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2. In the second set, McEnroe was unable to capitalize on break point chances on Courier's serve in the second and fourth games of the set, but secured the lethal break in the eighth game before serving out the match.

"The tennis ball doesn't see the age. It's zen," said Courier of McEnroe, who is 12 years his senior. "I don't think I have ever seen anyone over 50 play like John. I didn't play bad today. John was just marvelous. He played some unbelievable tennis today. This court here is faster than a grass court and it suits his game. I can also play well on a hardcourt. I was serving well, but John was fantastic."

Prior to the championship match, McEnroe defeated Mikael Pernfors, Jimmy Arias and Jaime Oncins in round-robin play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively without dropping a set. Last month, he began the 2009 Outback Champions Series by reaching the final of the Champions Cup Boston, where he lost to Sampras. Courier, who earned 600 ranking points and $28,000 in prize money with the runner-up showing, was appearing in his 11th career Outback Champions Series final and was seeking his eighth career OCS title.

In Sunday's third-place match, Pat Cash of Australia defeated Jimmy Arias 7-5, 6-3.