Tennis fans have expressed their sadness that they won't be hearing John McEnroe in commentary during the US Open this year. McEnroe was a notable absentee on ESPN's coverage of the first two days of the New York grand slam, with many fans wondering what had happened.
On Tuesday (local time), the American legend released a statement to explain. “Unfortunately, after feeling a bit under the weather, I tested positive for Covid,” he said in a statement released by ESPN. “I’m watching the US Open from home and can’t wait to get back to work soon.”
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It's unknown whether McEnroe, who won four of his seven grand slams at the US Open, will be able to return to the booth before the end of the tournament. ESPN said it wishes McEnroe well and looks forward “to welcoming him back when he’s ready.”
The sad development comes after McEnroe was left out of ESPN's coverage for the Australian Open in January. The 64-year-old has been a regular in the commentary booth in Melbourne over the years, while also taking part in colourful on-court interviews after matches.
But ESPN opted not to bring him out to Australia for the year's first grand slam. He instead worked as part of Eurosport's coverage. Fans took to Twitter to wish him well on Tuesday.
— Distinguished Gentleman (@ThDavidG) August 29, 2023
John McEnroe is out this week with Covid so I am sure it is really hard for them to broadcast 2 courts. https://t.co/Q743XaVrV8
— QualityShot Tennis (@QualityShot1) August 29, 2023
John McEnroe was with these players and others last Weds. He was at his charity pro am on Saturday in the Hamptons. Hope he recovers well. https://t.co/YBV7A9VmfD
— GlamSpinTennis (@GlamSpinTennis) August 29, 2023
That sucks. One of the best analysts. Hope he feels better soon.
— absolutelyEpic137 (@totallyEpic137) August 29, 2023
Americans make bright start at US Open
Despite the setback, McEnroe will be pleased with how the Americans have fared in the first round at Flushing Meadows. Third seed Jessica Pegula and former finalist Madison Keys both punched their tickets into the second round with routine victories that bolstered hopes for a homegrown winner.
Pegula, who won the title in Montreal just over two weeks ago, earned a 6-2 6-2 victory over Italy's Camila Giorgi shortly after 2017 runner-up Keys beat Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-2 6-4. An American woman hasn't won the US Open since Sloane Stephens beat compatriot Keys in the 2017 final.
However Pegula has shown she just may be hitting her stride at the perfect time after making light work of World No.52 Giorgi. "I think we are all hoping that we hit the right form going into a slam, especially if you get through the first week trying to hit that stride in the second week," Pegula said during her on-court interview. "But you never really know what's going to happen."
Over on Louis Armstrong Stadium, Keys went up a double break for an early 3-0 lead en route to sealing the opener in 32 minutes. She never looked back as the American 17th seed got the break she needed for a 3-2 lead in the second before relying on her serve the rest of the way.
Playing in his farewell tournament, John Isner got the better of Facundo Diaz Acosta 6-4 6-3 7-6 (1). On Sunday, Coco Gauff battled back from a set down in an unexpected and testy thriller under lights on opening night.
The sixth seed was left frazzled by German qualifier Laura Siegemund's incredible anticipation and volleying in the first set before finally triumphing 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory in two hours and 51 minutes. The match boiled over when Gauff grew tired of Siegemund's delaying tactics and raged at chair umpire Marijana Veljovic. The teenager could barely contain her delight when Veljovic deducted Siegemund a point for not being ready to receive, giving Gauff a 5-1 lead in the decider that she wouldn't relinquish.
Unfortunately for Venus Williams she didn't join the list of winners. The 43-year-old was thrashed 1-6 1-6 by Greet Minnen, sparking controversy that Williams was awarded a wildcard.
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