BOSTON, Mass., April 30, 2010 - John McEnroe defeated Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-4 Friday in the quarterfinals of the $150,000 Staples Champions Cup and advance into a semifinal confrontation with his legendary rival Bjorn Borg. The two Hall of Famers will meet in the Saturday evening session, 30 years after their epic singles finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1980.
Jim Courier and Mark Philippoussis will compete in the other semifinal match, to be played in Saturdays day session. Courier advanced into the semifinals Friday by defeating Jimmy Arias 6-3, 6-3.
The Staples Champions Cup is the second event on the 2010 Champions Series circuit, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event is being played for a fifth straight year and for the fourth time at the Agganis Arena at Boston University.
McEnroe was extra motivated to beat Wilander and set up the semifinal with Borg. He executed his serve-and-volley game to near perfection, losing very few points on serve and controlling play early and often.
I am excited to play Bjorn, said McEnroe. Anytime I play him is an extra special feeling. I had to get through the first matches, but not that we are here, I am up for it. I am going to be aggressive and try to take it early. We have seen each other enough that we know what our tendencies are. Hopefully there will be some real energy with the crowd and will fire us up. I liked having a match under my belt to get ready for this.
McEnroe and Borg played 14 times during their ATP Tour careers, each player winning seven times. Their 1980 Wimbledon final is regarded by some observers as the greatest match of all-time. Borg was able to win his fifth-straight title at the All England Club and stave off McEnroe, playing in his first Wimbledon final, by a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6 margin, highlighted by the famous 18-16 fourth-set tie-breaker. McEnroe avenged his loss to Borg later that summer in a five-set U.S. Open final. In 1981, McEnroe beat Borg in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals.
McEnroe said that his favorite tennis memory was actually losing the 1980 Wimbledon final to Borg.
As time has gone by that is the match people always talk to me about, he said. Its one of those cases where I felt like I came out with a higher stature even though I lost and that doesnt happen that often. That you can come out and you can gain. I learned something from him. I learned what a great champion does they find another gear. I didnt think he had it. He found it and it was unbelievable.
Borgs appearance at the Staples Champions Cup marks his debut on the five-year-old Champions Series. Since he played his final official match on the ATP World Tour in 1993, he has competed in other various events around the world, but not in the United States since a tournament in New York City in June of 2000. Borg dropped of the pro tour full-time in 1981, playing his last Grand Slam tournament at the 1981 U.S. Open, where he lost to McEnroe in the final. He made a sporadic comeback to the ATP Tour from 1991 to 1993. A 1987 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Borg is best known for his five consecutive Wimbledon titles from 1976 to 1980 and his six French Open titles won from 1974 to 1981. He won 64 ATP singles titles and ranked No. 1 in the world for 109 weeks.
McEnroe has enjoyed some of his best success on the Champions Series circuit in Boston. He was a singles finalist in Boston in 2009, losing to Pete Sampras 7-6 (10), 6-4, one day before his 50th birthday. He won the title in 2008, defeating Aaron Krickstein in the final, and was a finalist in the inaugural event in 2006, losing to Todd Martin.
Courier outslugged Arias in the first quarterfinal match Friday night.
I thought early on that Jimmy was really dictating play with his forehand and I needed to step up my offense, said Courier. Early in the match I was trying to feel my way into it. Once I got that first set in my pocket, I felt better.
Said Courier of the McEnroe vs. Borg semifinal, I am playing an afternoon match, but I can guarantee that I will be front row and center for John and Borg. Ive never seen them play live and I dont know if I will get many more chances. Im excited to see them play. We are watching history.
The remaining schedule of the event is as follows;
Saturday, May 1
Starting at 2 pm
Jim Courier vs. Mark Philippoussis
Starting at 7 pm
Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe
Sunday, May 2
Starting at 2 pm
The Staples Champions Cup is part of the global Champions Series tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. To be eligible to compete, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. Each event features $150,000 in prize money with the tournament champion earning $60,000 and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1. Each tournament champion earns 800 ranking points. Courier finished the 2009 season as the top-ranked player on the series, followed by Sampras and Martin.
Former French Open semifinalist Fernando Meligeni of Brazil was the surprise winner of the opening event on the 2010 Champions Series, winning the title in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Philippoussis in the final.
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