McEnroe wants to help Federer
By Melissa Murphy
New York - John McEnroe coaching Roger Federer? You cannot be serious!
While McEnroe would like to give the 13-time Grand Slam champion some pointers on how to snap out of his winless season, the mild-mannered Federer isn't quite taking him up on the offer.
McEnroe told a French weekly that he'd like to help the Swiss star get on track after Federer lost in the semifinals of the Miami Masters.
"I guess anybody would like to give me advice," Federer said at the Rome Masters. "So I don't think that's a crazy comment we should look into much."
With the French Open looming, Federer is gearing up for another possible match against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who has defeated Federer in their last five meetings. Federer is still seeking a win at Roland Garros, the one major title that has eluded him.
McEnroe has some ideas on how the second-ranked Federer can beat Nadal on clay.
"Take the ball earlier and not get pulled off the court," McEnroe said in a phone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday. "Nadal has a lefty slice out wide. Roger is content to get into a rally, and not attack the net, which is difficult on clay because of the slipping and sliding."
After getting married on April 11, Federer lost in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters, and his record fell to 18-5 this year.
"There's an argument that he doesn't need a coach and an argument that he could use some help with someone, which he's done in the past," said McEnroe, a seven-time singles Grand Slam winner. "He won 11 majors in four years. And back in my prime, I'd laugh at them (who offered advice).
"If he wants my input, we have people that represents us. It's a phone call away."
On Wednesday, Federer is scheduled to play 6-foot-10 (2.09-meter) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the Rome Masters. The French Open begins on May 24.
"At this stage, he'd have to have a lot of things fall his way to win it," McEnroe said. "If Nadal is healthy, he seems virtually unbeatable on clay. In a best of five, he's one of the fittest guys on tour."
Federer said he spoke with McEnroe during the "Showdown of Champions" in November. He played James Blake and McEnroe faced his old nemesis Bjorn Borg in a series of exhibitions in Macau and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"I spent time with him in the Asian exhibitions," Federer said. "We were there together and talked tennis like I did with James and Bjorn. So we had a good time over there."
Federer is one shy of Pete Sampras' all-time Grand Slam record of 14 titles. McEnroe believes Federer will break the record with titles at Wimbledon or the US Open.
McEnroe, in Los Angles to promote an ad campaign about prostate health for men over 50, said he won't be too upset if Federer doesn't call.
"The few times people asked me to help in past, no one listened to a word I said," McEnroe said of Boris Becker, Sergi Bruguera and Mark Philippoussis.