SAN JOSE -- HP Pavilion became a time machine of sorts Friday night where tennis fans could drop back a decade or two to watch the likes of John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier show just how much game they've got left.
And McEnroe -- his sport's onetime bad boy now sporting a full head of gray hair -- knew what else the crowd would want from him.
"They probably expect a little yelling, a little bit of anger and hopefully some good tennis," he said. "In a lot of cases, if they expect me to say, 'You cannot be serious,' they say it before I even say it."
McEnroe, who did show occasional snippets of his familiar petulance, was prophetic. When a call went against him in his first-round match against Todd Martin, a voice in the crowd of about 4,200 shouted out McEnroe's catchphrase.
The event was the ninth of 12 stops on this year's Powershares Series, a tournament that enlists eight tennis stars past their prime -- McEnroe is 53 and the others in San Jose were all 42 -- for one-night stands around the country, four players at a time. Once the series ends Nov. 30 in Anaheim, the top three will divide $1 million with half that going to the winner.
Agassi improved his overall chances, beating McEnroe in the final 8-3, after eliminating Courier 6-3 in the opening round. McEnroe won his first-round match 6-3, only the third time in nine tries that he's beaten Martin, a late substitute for Ivan Lendl.
Agassi suggested that
"They're looking for nostalgia," he said. "They certainly want to see you do it well enough to remember what you did so well. And that I think we all can do."
The crowd was appreciative, "ahhhing" a drop shot, applauding for each ace. And if players weren't able to reach a shot at this point in their lives, nobody made a point to notice.
Some of the players were there for outside business reasons in addition to the competition itself. Courier's company, InsideOut Sports and Entertainment, produces the event. Agassi's fitness equipment company, BILT, is a title sponsor.
And McEnroe said continuing to play helps make him a better TV commentator, his primary tennis role today.
"It keeps my perspective in good shape," McEnroe said. "You lose sight of how tough it is if you're not doing it. I feel closer to the difficulties of the game."