Sunday, 13 July 2014


John McEnroe despised Brad Gilbert, he hated everything about him, here's some dialogue for you that is rather humorous from the great Mac.
"Brad Gilbert doesn't swing hard enough at the ball to break an egg". Or this one. "He doesn't hit the ball, he waves at it". Or this , while they were actually playing a match, "Gilbert you don't deserve to be on the same court with me".  Now this match in particular was the match that forced Jonny Mac to take six months off from the game and pondered whether or not he would return or simply stay retired. "When I start losing to players like him I've got to reconsider what I am doing even playing this game". 
That match was at the 1986 Masters Tournament where Gilbert beat the defending Champ and World number 2 in three sets 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. The above mentioned 'trash talk' was from another tournament that the two played where Jonny psyched out Gilbert the night before in an interview. Gilbert even admitted that the verbal psych out from Mac put him off his game and he tried to out hit him, that was not Gilbert's game, he knew that , Mac knew that. 
"Gilbert seemed to be playing a little more aggressive than usual, it seemed to hurt his game " was Mac's post match comment regarding the 4 and 4 win. He even did it with a straight face, that's the sort of guy John McEnroe was as he could talk the talk, walk the walk and do it without a hint of guilt. Even Gilbert was in awe of Mac's ability to put him off his game . "Great psyching by Mac" was Gilbert's reaction.
Up until the win by Gilbert in '86 he had only won a single set from McEnroe in seven outings, yep JM 'owned' Gilbert but in the end Gilbert found a way. He even wrote a book on it, it's called 'Winning Ugly' and is one of the best selling books of all time in tennis. 
The book is about the 'mind games' in the sport of tennis and how you can have endless lessons and the best equipment but if you don't own the head for the game it will all account for nothing. Personally i have not read the book , I have read snippets of it but it is a well regarded book.
The head in tennis is the greatest factor of all, you can win with average shots if you are smart and you can easily lose to someone even if you are technically 'superior'. One day i will read the Gilbert philosophy but until then i will continue to both play and teach the game of tennis with the focus on two things, technique and tactics.
Tough game tennis, a technical game, a thinking game, a tactical game, good fun......

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