McEnroe named new Davis Cup captain

Gullikson's replacement wants Sampras, Agassi

Notebook

September 09, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- It's been quite a five-month period for John McEnroe. First came a baby girl, then his induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame, and yesterday he was named captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team.

"I met with four players -- Pete [Sampras], Andre [Agassi], Todd [Martin] and Jim [Courier]," said USTA president Judy Levering. "They all said they would like to play for John McEnroe."

Having just been introduced as the new captain, McEnroe, grinning, said: "You got that on tape, right?"

McEnroe replaces Tom Gullikson, who had been the captain since 1994.

"I tried to lead the U.S. Davis Cup team with integrity," Gullikson said. "I congratulated [John] on his appointment and offered him all my best wishes and support in his quest to bring the Davis Cup back to the U.S.A."

Gullikson's record was 13-5, and his team won the 1995 Davis Cup, but he was roundly criticized for the way he handled situations involving No. 1-ranked Sampras and Todd Martin leading up to, and during, the July quarterfinal his team lost to Australia.

Martin said he was "sad" for Gullikson but that if a change were going to be made, "John is the right choice."

Levering said Gullikson had done "a great job," but now it is time for McEnroe.

"There is nobody in the world more passionate about Davis Cup or tennis in general than John," Levering said. "He is perhaps the greatest Davis Cup player in the history of the sport. John's record as a player was 59-10. I think he will be just as successful as captain."

McEnroe said his priorities are to get Sampras and Agassi back on the team, win the Cup and work on finding the next group of young American players.

"I think he's going to be the best captain yet, by far," said Agassi. "The fact that John is going to be part of it, yeah, I'm looking forward to it. Now, all we have to do is get Pete on board, and we're all good."

Sampras told McEnroe on the air during last night's USA Network telecast of the U.S. Open that "I look forward to playing next year with Andre. It would be pretty special, a dynasty people won't see for a long time."

Kafelnikov survives

No. 3 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov survived a record 48-ace performance by No. 12 Richard Krajicek to advance to the men's semifinals of the U.S. Open, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 1-6, 7-5 (7-5).

Krajicek set a modern-era (post 1968) record in main-draw tournaments, breaking Goran Ivanisevic's mark of 46 first-serve winners at Wimbledon in 1997.

"I feel incredible, to be honest," Kafelnikov said. "When Richard came back to 6-5 to have ace on match point, I thought I'd lose."

Kafelnikov will play second seed Andre Agassi, who defeated Nicolas Escude, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4. The world's No. 1 ranking -- as well as a spot in the final -- will be on the line in Saturday's match. Agassi is the only men's player this year to make his third Grand Slam semifinal.

No Davis Cup for Rafter

Patrick Rafter will miss Australia's Davis Cup match against Russia because of the shoulder injury that sidelined his Open-title defense.

"The doctor feels Pat should take at least six to eight weeks off," captain John Newcombe said yesterday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 9/09/99

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