BBC accused of conflict of interest over McEnroe commentary on Raonic

Canada's Milos Raonic and coach John McEnroe during practice

Tennis fans have questioned the BBC for allowing John McEnroe to commentate on the Wimbledon semi-final between Roger Federer and Milos Raonic while working as Raonic’s coach.

The Canadian defeated the seven-time Wimbledon champion in a marathon five-set match on Centre Court, which his coach, speaking from the commentary box, described as “amazing”.

Twitter users complained about McEnroe’s role, with some saying it was a conflict of interest and others accusing him of unavoidable bias.

The BBC denied that there was any conflict of interest, with a source for the broadcaster describing McEnroe as “an extremely experienced professional” who “has always been impartial through all his years of commenting”.

“We absolutely trust that he wouldn’t be biased and we wouldn’t have put him forward otherwise,” the source said. “He has continued to be unbiased throughout today’s commentary”.

McEnroe will not be providing the BBC commentary for the men’s singles final on Sunday because he is contracted with ESPN for that match, they added.

Raonic appointed McEnroe, a three-time Wimbledon champion, as an additional coach last month, after asking for the American’s help with his grass court game in the run-up to Wimbledon. His training team is led by the Italian coach Riccardo Piatti and the former Spanish world number one Carlos Moyá.

A week after they began working together, Raonic finished runner-up to Andy Murray at Queen’s Club. The No 6 seed’s defeat of Federer won him a place in his first grand slam final.

Following the match, McEnroe said of Raonic: “He showed a lot of heart out there, a lot of fight. He found another gear I don’t even think he knew he had. He had some quality shots, huge forehands, you name it, he put it all together at the right moment.”

Raonic previously said McEnroe has helped him develop his game by coming into the net. “Part of the motivation was to improve that aspect of how much I can implement it in my game, how to use it and what the right moments are,” he said.

McEnroe had also helped with the mental aspect of his game, Raonic said. “He definitely keeps emphasising demeanour on court, which I probably would not have put as one of the priorities.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Esther Addley, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th July 2016 18.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010