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Patrick McEnroe on Comeback Trail

May 6, 1998

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) _ Patrick McEnroe, playing in his first tour event since last October, showed Christian Vinck of Germany that he still has some tennis left.

McEnroe won his first ATP Tour match since the 1997 Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory over Vinck in a first-round match of America’s Red Clay Tennis Championship on Tuesday night.

In other matches, No. 2 seed Vince Spadea defeated former NCAA champion Alex O’Brien 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, and Detroit’s Steve Campbell, the No. 6 seed, beat Arnaud Clement of France 6-4, 7-5.

The biggest upset happened in the night’s final match when No. 3 seed Andrei Pavel of Romania, a career-high 60th in the world, lost to Franco Squillari of Argentina 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

McEnroe, younger brother of John McEnroe, seemed destined to join his brother in the TV booth. Two shoulder surgeries had caused his game and his ranking to plummet.

But McEnroe, 31, turned back the clock on Tuesday.

``I felt I was moving well against him,″ said McEnroe, who practiced against his brother to prepare for his comeback. ``Before, I never knew what to expect.″

A former top 50 player, McEnroe thought seriously about retiring. But after proposing to long-time girlfriend Melissa Errico, he decided to give it one last try.

``I want to go out on my terms,″ McEnroe said, ``as opposed to having something force me out.″

The second surgery corrected a bone spur in his chronically painful right shoulder.

McEnroe faces No. 8 seed Davide Sanguinetti, a three-set winner over Sargis Sargsian, in the second round today. At this point, he’s playing for the simplest of reasons.

``My goal is to go out and enjoy it,″ he said.

For the second day in a row, rain wreaked havoc with the schedule as play began 2 1/2 hours late. Because of all the delays, 20 matches were scheduled today, with play beginning at 10 a.m.

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