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McEnroe lauds 'more impressive' Djokovic streak

ESPN staff
May 18, 2011
Novak Djokovic shares a joke with John McEnroe © Getty Images

John McEnroe believes Novak Djokovic's recent run is 'quite amazing', as the Serbian closes in on breaking his record of 42 successive matches unbeaten during one calendar year.

McEnroe set the record in 1984, only losing to Ivan Lendl in five sets in the final of the French Open. Djokovic, whose streak currently sits at 37 for 2011 (39 overall), would surpass McEnroe's mark if he reaches the final at Roland Garros, and the American admits the similarities between the two runs are hard to ignore.

"It certainly brings back memories of 84," McEnroe said, "because people keep comparing our starts to the year. So this would be the definition of mixed emotions. I think I've pretty much lost every record that I had but, at the same time, I know that this has been a shot in the arm for our sport.

"I'm quite excited that he might break my record at the French Open. To put it mildly, it's been quite amazing to see what he's done and how much more confidently he's playing."

McEnroe, now a renowned television personality, believes Djokovic's run is even more impressive than his own success - especially after beating Rafael Nadal on no fewer than four occasions to rise to within a whisker of the world No. 1 spot.

"Given there's more competition, more athleticism, deeper fields, I'd say his record is even more impressive than mine - especially given that in 1984, the major in Australia was played at the end of the year," McEnroe said. "I was coming into my first one at the French, where the streak was broken. So things are different. Also, he came into the year at No3 and to be able to dominate [higher ranked players] the way he has, well...

"Everyone knew he was capable, because he had won a major and he showed some heart at the [2010 US] Open, when he came from two match points down [in the semi-final against Roger Federer]. To see what he's done since then, I hasten to say that even he's a little surprised."

McEnroe believes Djokovic's example can be an inspiration for Andy Murray - even if he wishes the Scot had gone on and beaten his rival after creating an opportunity when the two met in the semi-finals at the Rome Open.

"I'm a little bit angry at him because he had an opportunity to save [my record]," McEnroe said, "but he looked to be a lot better.

"It took him a surprising amount of time to recover [from losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open final]. I did read about some injury issues around the time of Monte Carlo. But certainly to be able to do what he did in Rome, and serve for the match, shows at least that he's back to where he belongs.

"Now the next step, obviously, would be to beat one of the top three guys and make a run and get back to a slam final."

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