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#pounditTuesday, September 22, 2020

John McEnroe: Calling US Open matches without fans has been ‘surreal’

John McEnroe

The US Open is one of many sporting events that is being held without fans, and John McEnroe seems to be having a difficult time making the most of it.

McEnroe said calling matches at the US Open without fans has been “completely bizarre and surreal.” The four-time US Open winner spoke with Marc Berman of the New York Post about how both commentators and competitors use the buzz from the fans to help them do their jobs.

“It’s a lot tougher for players than it is for me. I think there’s a similarity that commentators feed off energy,” McEnroe said. “It’s something I’ve taken pride in over the last 28 years I’ve done this. I want to bring that energy to the commentator’s booth the same way hopefully I did on the tennis court. It’s a key thing for me. It’s something I’m doubly aware of because it’s so quiet.

“It’s completely bizarre and surreal, calling matches and walking around and nobody’s there. You can never have imagined not only tennis, but all sports would be doing this right now.”

McEnroe added that he has been impressed with the level of fitness players have maintained after five months without competition. He said he initially had doubts about whether tournaments should even resume, but he has since changed his mind.

“It’s sad. It’s definitely weird. The alternative is not playing,” McEnroe said. “Early on, I had mixed feelings given the catastrophe that’s taken place. But it wouldn’t have made sense not to play tennis with other sports going on, though it’s more difficult with players coming from all over the world.”

McEnroe won’t even be able to travel to the French Open later this month. The event announced on Sunday that there will be a limited amount of fans, and Berman reports that McEnroe and the rest of the NBC crew will call the tournament remotely.

Every sport is dealing with the challenges of having either no fans or a limited number. The NFL has been exploring some creative ways to offset that, but the experience is going to be unusual for NFL players and broadcasters as well. McEnroe isn’t the only one who finds it all to be “surreal.”

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