Sunday, January 19, 2003

Coach threatened to punch McEnroe

Australian Open notebook

By John Brock
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - John McEnroe's take on tennis is winning him friends and enemies in the Australian Open.

Brent Larkham, the brother and coach of Australian player Todd Larkham, revealed Sunday that he threatened to punch the former top-ranked player on Friday.

Brent Larkham was upset after McEnroe criticized his brother's performance in a straight-sets loss to Lleyton Hewitt on Thursday night.

Brent told the Herald Sun newspaper that he'd asked McEnroe to "step outside."

"I asked him if he wanted to back up his big mouth with a bit of action out in the car park, but he didn't want to," Larkham said. "He wouldn't justify what he said other than to say he gets paid to do a job and he calls it the way he sees it."

McEnroe said he did not believe the match deserved to be played on center court and criticized some of Todd Larkham's playing as "pitiful".

"It's fine to be critical of my game, if that's what he wants, and I'm OK with that," Todd Larkham said. "But when he gets personal, that's where it is wrong."

McEnroe is working event for Australia's Channel 7, and as an on-court host following prime-time matches. He interviewed Hewitt after Saturday's win against Radek Stepanek.

"I think it's fantastic he comes all this way to commentate," Hewitt said. "I think he really adds a lot of attention and spice to the tournament."

McEnroe wasn't available for comment.


IVANISEVIC-LIKE: Croatia's Mario Ancic has a little bit of Goran Ivanisevic in him.

And why not? The two come from the same town.

Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon in 2001 and was once ranked No. 2, is well known for a big serve and offbeat antics.

The 18-year-old Ancic, ranked No. 88, is playing in his first Australian Open. He thrilled a large group of Croatian fans with his four-set win over Australia's Peter Luczak in the third round Friday.

The Croat tore off his shirt and wrapped a scarf in Croatian colors around his neck.

"Like all the guys there, we are very temperamental," Ancic said, referring to his hometown of Split. "Maybe now I'm much calmer, but there's always this temper inside.

"When I started I was really nervous, throwing the rackets everywhere. But now everybody is concentrated, so I get much more calmer. This hunger to win, it's always inside us."

Ancic said he had received a call during the week from Ivanisevic, who is recovering from shoulder surgery in May.

"He's really ready to play," Ancic. "He's hungry to play because he's been practicing for the last couple of months. He says he's in the best shape of his life."


AT LAST: For Sargis Sargsian, getting to the fourth round is a very big deal.

The Armenian beat Australia's Mark Philippoussis in four sets. He had never been past the third round in 24 previous Grand Slams.

"It was like a disease - I lost count how many times I made the third round," said Sargsian, ranked No. 94.

"I had some close matches and I've never been through," he added. "To do it today in front of such a great crowd and such a good player - it's probably my best win."

Sargsian is playing in his seventh Australian Open.

"Every year I've been coming here and I've had maybe 50-100 guys coming," he said. "They've been incredibly supportive because I really haven't played my best tennis here."

He next faces South African Wayne Ferreira.


OPEN SESAME: Venus Williams had an unusual interviewer at the Australian Open - Elmo of "Sesame Street."

Williams and the puppet chatted on local TV after her third-round win over Germany's Anca Barna.

Elmo also made an appearance in the fan tent Friday. He spoke with former Australian and French Open winner Mary Pierce, conned Barbara Schett into doing a very subdued chicken dance and took questions from the crowd.

Is Big Bird next?


LOVEBIRD DOUBLE: When Jimmy Connors and then-girlfriend Chris Evert won Wimbledon titles in 1974 they were dubbed the "lovebird double."

Now there's another girlfriend-boyfriend combination going for a Grand Slam double, this time at the Australian Open.

Lleyton Hewitt is the favorite for the men's title and Kim Clijsters, seeded fourth, is emerging as the main threat to Serena and Venus Williams in the women's draw.

Local bookmakers quote odds of 10-1 for a Hewitt-Clijsters double.

UC 77, Tulane 54
UC notebook: Flowers uses his time wisely

Xavier 86, UMass 73

No. 16 Kentucky 88, No. 10 Notre Dame 73
Short benching at Vandy motivates Hayes to play
No. 18 Indiana 84, No. 8 Illinois 66
No. 15 Louisville 87, TCU 74
Miami 77, Ohio 65
No. 17 Maryland 87, No. 1 Duke 72
Top 25 roundup
How the Top 25 fared
Flanagan's 31 pace Norse women's win
Women: UConn sets win streak record

Coach endured lengthy search but got the job
Daugherty: Team must rethink scouting
QB coach Anderson next to go

Curnutte's NFL playoff picks
Raiders feeling pressure to win now
Titans have something to prove
Matchups for AFC championship game
Eagles eager to savor football's best feeling
Bucs savor opportunity of NFC showdown
Matchups for the NFC championship game

Fans celebrate Buckeyes' championship
OSU seniors have trouble saying goodbye
Senior Bowl: North 17, South 0

Fay: Reds insider
Reds Q&A
Ozzie says Rose should admit wrongdoing
Gwynn wants more than ol' college try

Groeschen: St. X ready to rebuild its stadium
Schmidt: Kentucky insider
Boys: FTs lift Indians over Purcell
Girls: Riley's 1,000th point sends Trojans to win
Ky: Dixie storms past Dunbar
LeBron hums along amid OHSAA's inquiry
Swimming: Tomes upsets Myers, wins 200 freestyle
Prep results

Venus cruises into quarters
Coach threatened to punch McEnroe

Baddeley on verge of first PGA Tour win

9,611 watch Ducks tie 2-2

Weiss wins third U.S. title on ugly afternoon
Olympic gold medalist Hughes wins silver

Time to rekindle those Kentucky Derby dreams

NASCAR lacks last-lap drama
Earnhardt Jr. hesitant about lifetime contract

Camacho stops Villareal in return to ring
Tszyu retains super lightweight titles

Enquirer Page Two Power rankings
50th straight home win in sight for Surge
Just call him Ryan Boitano