McEnroe's special treat for HK

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 October, 1993, 12:00am

JOHN McEnroe, one of the all-time greats of tennis, arrived in Hong Kong last night ready to give the territory's fans a rare treat of his vintage talents.

The 34-year-old former world number one has not played competitively this year and is using this week's $5.4 million Marlboro Championships as a gauge of just how well he can play these days.

McEnroe is one of 12 players, including Sweden's Stefan Edberg and defending champion Ivan Lendl, taking part in the event, which starts tomorrow at Victoria Park.

The denim-clad McEnroe, his eyes looking tired under a baseball cap after a flight from New York, said: ''I haven't played a single tournament all year so it would be good to see exactly how well I am playing.

''I've played round-robin tournaments before but not exactly like this one in Hong Kong.

''I think it is a good idea. It is a bit like the Masters used to be, where you could lose a match but still win the tournament.'' McEnroe's last appearance in the territory was in the spring of 1991 when he was beaten in the first round of the Salem Hong Kong Open by fellow American Todd Witsken.

This week he will also team up with Frenchman Henri Leconte in the eight-team doubles.

Apart from enjoying a brilliant singles career, McEnroe was also one of the world's top doubles players, winning the Wimbledon doubles title last year with German player Michael Stich.

Lendl, who has won the Marlboro singles title for the last three years, has peaked just in time for a possible fourth successive victory after winning the Seiko Super title in Japan yesterday, beating Todd Martin in the final. That was Lendl's first tournament victory in six months.

Edberg returns to Hong Kong for the first time since 1989. He was one of the 16 players who lined up for the inaugural tournament in 1988.

Also taking part in the tournament are Dutchman Richard Krajicek, South African Wayne Ferreira, Martin, Spain's Carlos Costa, Swede Anders Jarryd, Peru's Jaime Yzaga and Australia's ''two Woodies'', Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.

The 12 players are divided into four groups of three with the winners of each group advancing to the semi-finals.

The eight doubles teams are divided into two groups of four, with the winners and runners-up qualifying for the knockout stages.

Prize money has been increased from last year's $5 million to $5.4 million with the singles champion receiving $1.7 million.