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LONDON – John McEnroe will have a slightly different role when he takes his place in the ESPN booth for Sunday's Wimbledon final.
Instead of being his usual outspoken, unbiased self calling the shots for TV on Centre Court, the American tennis great will be acting as a third wheel giving insight into Milos Raonic's game because he is now part of the Canadian player's coaching team.
"I'm not trying to put him in a box ... and have him be an objective observer of the match and wear two hats," said Jamie Reynolds, an ESPN vice president overseeing coverage of the tennis tournament. "I'm having him here as Milos' coach."
Reynolds said the network will have Chris Fowler and Patrick McEnroe in the booth alongside the three-time Wimbledon champion.
Raonic, who beat Roger Federer in the semifinals, will face Andy Murray in Sunday's final. It will be the first major final for a man representing Canada.
McEnroe called Raonic's win over seven-time champion Federer on Friday for his other employer, the BBC. After that match, Raonic said he didn't mind if McEnroe worked his TV job while he was on court playing.
After the win over seven-time champion Federer on Friday, Raonic said he didn't mind if McEnroe worked his TV job while he was on court playing.
"It doesn't really make a difference by any means," Raonic said.
Raonic's other coaches are former No. 1 and 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya, and Ricardo Piatti.
Reynolds said there was no problem with having McEnroe working Sunday as long as the network is transparent with the viewers. But, he said, ESPN avoided any perception of a conflict by keeping McEnroe out of the box calling matches involving Raonic until now.
"We were sensitive to it because at the end of the day we're trying to serve the audience," Reynolds said. "Let the audience decide whether or not John is still John. I think that's a win, as long as everybody understands what voice he's bringing into the booth.
"When you get into this situation where we now have this one-and-done match," Reynolds said, "he's an enhancement to that experience."