The Brothers McEnroe: Watch out for Rafa at the U.S. Open

Rafa Nadal is playing the best tennis of the year headed into the U.S. Open.
Rafa Nadal is playing the best tennis of the year headed into the U.S. Open.

Once again John and brother Patrick McEnroe will be doing the U.S. Open for ESPN and they had some interesting thoughts about the Men’s Championship. John will also be part of the CBS coverage team, as they have the broadcast portion of the tournament.

Checkout the complete TV schedule for ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS, right here.

So I asked the brothers who we should be looking at as the 2013 U.S. Open Champion? As you might expect, they had some interesting thoughts:

PATRICK McENROE:  I don’t think any of us would have expected Rafa Nadal, to play three Masters events and go undefeated, and not to mention beat every top 10 player on hardcourts and do it as impressively as he has done it.  We all knew he could come back.  He’s Nadal.  And he could still get to the top.  But what he’s done on hardcourts this year has been amazing.  I think he’s perfectly primed to win the Open.  His movement has been great.

We asked him last week in Cincinnati, Do you think you’re playing better now than when you won the Open?  He wouldn’t go there because he played great back then, too, but I think he’s playing smarter hardcourt tennis, in that he’s trying to finish points more quickly.  When he played Djokovic in Canada, he did a much better job on the shorter points than the longer points.  So I think it’s a little bit of a role reversal there.

All this being said, I think he’s a favorite.  Obviously Murray and Djokovic are still great hard court players, and over the last couple of years have been the two best on hard courts in the majors.  But the way Nadal has played this year and especially the last two weeks, in my mind, he’s the favorite.

JOHN McENROE:  I would just say that we’re all extremely pleased for our sport that he’s come back seemingly so healthy.  Obviously, as Patrick said, if he’s healthy he’s an incredible player.  I put him as one of the all‑time greats.  There is an argument to make his “the” greatest with his results and head‑to‑heads with these other top guys.

So I must say, I was concerned after watching him at Wimbledon, but maybe it was a blessing that he had an extra couple weeks.  Because that was the first day, he didn’t play for about six weeks.  So this to me would be the perfect schedule for him.  Have four week, play two, and then one week off.  So he’s just where he wants to be there.

Going to be really exciting now.  You got three guys, one major each for Rafa, Murray, and Djokovic, going for the No. 1 ranking.  This should be an outstanding and exciting Open.

Rafa sneaking into the 2 spot after winning Cincinnati now allows him that he’s only going to have to play one of ‑‑ well, he could play both of them, but he could conceivably only have to play one of them.  So if he’s slotted with Ferrer, that would be a favorable situation for him.  This is going to be an interesting draw when it’s made tomorrow.