McEnroe bros predict U.S. Open winner

NEW YORK -- Seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe predicted an Andy would win the men's title at this year's U.S. Open, naming either Scot Andy Murray or American Andy Roddick as his choices to prevail.

U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, John's younger brother, went with world No. 1 and defending champion Roger Federer, casting a sympathy vote as a new father of twins himself in harmony with the Swiss champion.

The McEnroes shared their views in a conference call Wednesday that announced their broadcast booth partnership for ESPN telecasts from Flushing Meadows, where the U.S. Open starts Aug. 31.

John McEnroe said Federer was due for a letdown after a triumphant return to the top ranking in which he leapfrogged Rafael Nadal after wins at the French Open and Wimbledon gave him a record 15 Grand Slam singles titles.

"I'm not picking him to win the Open," said McEnroe, a four-time winner of the U.S. title. "Only because he's done so much already. Unexpectedly winning the French and then winning Wimbledon and breaking the record and doing so in the manner he did against Roddick.

"You would think that of any human being in this situation, even Roger," he said about the letdown factor. "Depending on the draw, my pick at this point is Murray or Roddick. It's the highest level I've ever seen Roddick, and it's Murray's favorite surface, hard courts. These guys should be incredibly hungry, Roddick to win another and Murray to win his first one. They are going to be able to dig down."

The older McEnroe explained how the draw could favor Murray.

"At the moment, Murray is now [No.] 2, which means it is conceivable that Nadal and Federer will be in the same half, and at the moment Roddick is No. 5," he said. "Roddick could be in either Nadal's end or Federer's quarter, which would leave Murray with a more open draw. So this is a fairly important part of the puzzle."

Patrick McEnroe said Nadal's fitness after a knee injury was a question that would not be answered until a few rounds of the Open and agreed with his brother that Davis Cup stalwart Roddick ought to bounce back from his Wimbledon near-miss.

The Davis Cup captain, however, came back to Federer, winner of the last five U.S. Opens.

"I think the fact that he won Wimbledon and broke the record has taken a little pressure off him," he said. "Could that hurt him? Could he lose his edge a little bit? Maybe, but he's always seemed to play so well when he's free-flowing and just sort of playing without any tension.

"I still think he's the favorite at the Open," he said.

John McEnroe, however, pointed out: "His biggest challenge right now
may be his twins."

His brother agreed, saying: "As a father of 9-month-old girls, twins, I can tell you that's a challenge. Something tells me Roger may not be changing quite as many diapers as I have."