John McEnroe has strong views on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

(Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images for Laver Cup)
(Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images for Laver Cup) /

If you haven’t heard the excellent podcast SmartLess with actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, as soon as you are done reading this article, you should find it. The podcast is worth your listen as the hosts are funny and they always have great guests. One of their recent episodes had tennis legend John McEnroe as the guest.

And, of course, Johnny Mac did not hold back. He was screaming and yelling – obviously, there was no reason for that – but John McEnroe simply doesn’t know how to hold his tongue. And we are all better off for that.

When the subject of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was brought up, McEnroe said one player he would love to face on a certain surface, but the other player he would never want to play on a different surface. The idea of a John McEnroe in his prime playing Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in their primes is an interesting thought, though.

John McEnroe talks about what it would have been like to play Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

About Federer, McEnroe said, “Federer is the most beautiful player I’ve ever seen…The dream would be to play Roger at Wimbledon.” McEnroe isn’t saying, of course, that he would beat Federer on the grass at Wimbledon, but he does think he would stand a chance to win.

John McEnroe should feel that way as well. He was a former No. 1 on the ATP who won seven Grand Slams, including three at Wimbledon. He also reached two other finals and three other semifinals at the event. McEnroe would have a puncher’s chance against Federer at Wimbledon.

But against Nadal on clay at the French Open? Maybe not so much. The best McEnroe did at Roland Garros was reaching one final as well as another semifinal and another quarterfinal. He never won the major that Rafael Nadal has won 14 times.

McEnroe said about Nadal and the idea of facing him at the French Open, “Whereas you look at Rafael Nadal, that’s not your typical or prototypical tennis player. His body is bigger up top…the nightmare would be to play Rafa at Roland Garros on clay, even though I grew up on clay and that was my best surface until I turned pro. But what Rafa did was insane.”

In completely different news about John McEnroe, turns out he was an inspiration for actor Tom Hulce when Hulce was preparing for his role to play Mozart in the 1984 Amadeus. According to an interview with the Guardian, Hulce said, “John McEnroe was a character reference for me – I was looking for people who behaved in ways that meant you would never guess they had such divine abilities.” Makes complete sense.

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