McEnroe Opens With Win Over Arias In Surprise

SURPRISE, Ariz., November 6 – John McEnroe returned to play on the Outback Champions Series tennis circuit Thursday defeating fellow American Jimmy Arias 6-2, 6-2 in front of a sold-out crowd in his opening round-robin match at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex. Magnus Larsson of Sweden also won his opening round-robin match at the event Thursday defeating Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-6 (9), 6-2. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise is a first-year-event on the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for tennis players over the age of 30.

Playing in his first Outback Champions Series event since the International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. in August, McEnroe had little trouble with Arias, playing a near flawless match. McEnroe broke his former Davis Cup teammate twice in each set and displayed pinpoint serving and deft touch that kept Arias off balance for most of the evening. In their last meeting, Arias chalked up his lone career victory over McEnroe in any capacity, registering one of the biggest upsets in Outback Champions Series history in defeating the three-time Wimbledon champion 7-5, 6-2 in round-robin play in the Cayman Islands in April. Quipped Arias of his win over McEnroe at the time, “I’ve lost to him 735 times. I don’t know the exact count but it’s many times that I’ve lost.”

Larsson’s win over Ferreira can be considered a mild upset as Ferreira has been in top form this year on the Outback Champions Series, earning the No. 2 spot behind Jim Courier in the Stanford Champions Rankings. Larsson, however, has won three of four previous Outback Champions Series meetings with Ferreira, including the final in Memphis in 2006 and in the third-place match in Athens, Greece in 2007. Larsson also won four of six meetings over Ferreira on the ATP tour, including a round of 16 match-up at the 1997 U.S. Open.

Both players held serve throughout the first set to force the tie-breaker, where Ferreira held three set points – leading 6-4 and 8-7. Larsson, however, clinched the set on his third set point when Ferreira barely missed a forehand down-the-line passing shot.

Said Ferreira of the missed passing shot, “I didn’t see it because the board in the net was in the way, so I didn’t have a clue at all. It felt like it was close at least. It’s hard to say.”

Larsson then broke Ferreira to go up 2-1 and again to go up 4-1 in the second set before serving out the match in the seventh game.

Friday’s schedule is highlighted by Larsson taking on Todd Martin in the second match of the 2 pm afternoon session in a battle of players with 1-0 round-robin records. In another match featuring two 1-0 players, McEnroe will face Anders Jarryd in the first match of the 7 pm evening session. The McEnroe-Jarryd match will be played 28 years to the week of perhaps their most famous confrontation at the semifinals of the 1984 Stockholm Open, where on November 4, 1984, McEnroe conducted one of his most famous on-court tirades of his career – highlighted by him saying his oft-mimicked and imitated line to the chair umpire “Answer my question – the question, jerk” – in his 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory that featured him losing 15 points in a row at one stretch in the first set and overcoming a point and game penalty in the second set.

The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2008 schedule with each event featuring an eight-man round-robin match format. The winner of each four-player division meets in the title match while second place finishers in each division play in the third-place match. Each event features $150,000 in prize money with an undefeated winner taking home $54,000 as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. Beginning in 2008, the year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.

The 2008 Outback Champions Series kicked off March 12-16 in Naples, Fla., at The Oliver Group Champions Cup where Martin defeated McEnroe in the final. Courier won the second event of the season at The Residences at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Legends Championships April 16-20, defeating Ferreira in the final, while McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series even in Boston April 30- May 4, defeating Aaron Krickstein in the final. Pat Cash won his first Outback Champions Series title in Newport, R.I., in August, defeating Courier in the final, while Courier won his second and third titles of the season in September in Charlotte and in October in Dallas, defeating Martin and Thomas Enqvist in the final, respectively. The final event in 2008 will be held in Dubai, U.A.E., Nov. 19-22.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Pete Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and many others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. Each event also has the right to choose a “wild card” entrant. More information on the Outback Champions Series can be obtained by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including the annual Ultimate Fantasy Camp. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

The remaining schedule for the event is as follows (all times local);

Friday, November 7
2:00 pm
Wayne Ferreira vs. Karel Novacek
Followed by
Todd Martin vs. Magnus Larsson
7:00 pm
John McEnroe vs. Anders Jarryd
Followed by
Jim Courier vs. Jimmy Arias

Saturday, November 8
Noon
Anders Jarryd vs. Jimmy Arias
Followed by
Jim Courier vs. John McEnroe
5:00 pm
Magnus Larsson vs. Karel Novacek
Followed by
Todd Martin vs. Wayne Ferreira

Sunday, November 9
Noon
Third Place Match
Followed By
Championship Match

Round-Robin Results from Wednesday, November 5
Todd Martin, United States, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-1
Anders Jarryd, Sweden, def. Jim Courier, United States, 6-3, 7-6 (2)

Round Robin Results from Thursday, November 6, 2008
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 7-6 (9), 6-2
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-2, 6-2

Round-Robin Group Standings
Group A
Todd Martin 1-0
Magnus Larsson 1-0
Wayne Ferreira 0-1
Karel Novacek 0-1

Group B
Anders Jarryd 1-0
John McEnroe 1-0
Jimmy Arias 0-1
Jim Courier 0-1