Amid backlash over some of his commentary at the Australian Open this year, John McEnroe had another shocker during Alex de Minaur's match on Friday night. De Minaur was way too good for Flavio Cobolli, advancing to the fourth round with a dominant 6-3 6-3 6-1 win.
He is now the first Aussie male since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 to make the fourth round of the Australian Open three years running. Cobolli struggled with a leg injury late in the match as de Minaur showcased his speed and fitness, as well as his newfound power.
But it was the speed and tenacity that de Minaur has made his trademark that brought McEnroe unstuck. The American legend was commentating the match for Channel 9 when he made an all-time gaffe in reference to de Minaur's nickname 'the Demon'.
"That's a great nickname," he said after it was mentioned by Todd Woodbridge. "Do you know how he got the Demon as his nickname? Obviously to do with his speed, I'm assuming (speed demon)."
There was awkward silence in the commentary box as Woodbridge and Jim Courier tried to figure out if McEnroe was being serious or not. Sadly he was, and never made the connection between De Minaur and Demon.
“Well, his name is ‘De … Min...,” a perplexed Woodbridge said. Courier tried to cover for McEnroe and suggest that he was joking, but he clearly wasn't. Courier then rubbed it in, saying: "You're never going to guess why Novak's called the Djoker."
Woodbridge added: "Or why Mac is called Mac (John McEnroe's nickname). Or why the Woodies are called the Woodies (Woodbridge and former doubles partner Mark Woodforde)."
TV viewers were also left gobsmacked that McEnroe had never realised where de Minaur's nickname came from, despite it being bleedingly obvious. Journalist Neil McMahon wrote on social media: "John McEnroe not twigging why Alex de Minaur is called Demon is everything about John McEnroe's often mysterious commentary style and why I keep listening. John McEnroe knocked unconscious live on air as giant penny drops."
John McEnroe knocked unconscious live on air as giant penny drops.
Mac: "Why is his nickname Demon? Obviously beause of his speed?"@toddwoodbridge, gently bewildered: "Well his name is 'De ... Min..." #AusOpen
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) January 19, 2024
Mmm, all he has to do is say the guys name, it’s obvious.
— CHT Perth☀️☀️ (@Claret_perth) January 19, 2024
Poor bugger had all that merican lack of ....well everything just quietly.
— john h Redman (@redo72JR) January 19, 2024
Tool and a lack of sharpness at the rear end of a shed come to mind.
— Simon Canning (@canning30) January 19, 2024
Todd Woodbridge literally just had to explain to John McEnroe how Alex de Minaur ended up with the nickname “Demon”. pic.twitter.com/D6Q0UNuj0x
— Paul Nolan (@pwnolan) January 19, 2024
— 🅜🅐🅡🅚 🍿 (@MarkEMarkAU) January 19, 2024
John McEnroe savaged over 'disrespectful' commentary
This year's Australian Open tournament is the first one McEnroe has attended in person in four years. But he might be wishing he stayed away.
He was labelled "disrespectful" and "unprofessional" earlier in the tournament after admitting live on air that he didn't know anything about one of the players he was commentating on. McEnroe was calling Stefanos Tsitsipas' first-round clash with Zizou Bergs, and brazenly admitted he had never even heard of Bergs. And it wasn't the first time he's done it, with John Millman previously taking a crack at him over a similar situation.
American tennis player Thai-Son Kwiatkowski wrote on social media on Tuesday: "Insane to me that time and time again J. McEnroe goes on air and just admits he has zero clue who a player is. (Today, Bergs, 120 ATP) just says to the world, 'hey guys, I’ve done zero research for my job and I’m just going to disrespect someone who’s top 150 in the world at a job'." Journalist Ben Rothenberg added: "It's not only disrespectful to the players, it’s disrespectful to the audience at home to be that unprepared, especially when given plenty of time to prep and a whole production crew ready to get you up to speed."
As for de Minaur, his win set up a fourth-round showdown with Andrey Rublev. The Russian fifth seed beat Sebastian Korda 6-2 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in the later game.
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