mcenroe was an talented artist and gilbert was a junkballer. total opposites. when they played at the masters in the beginning of '86, mcenroe had a meltdown oncourt, yelled at gilbert on a changeover "you dont belong on the same court as me!" , ended up losing that match, and then took a 6 month sabbatical from tennis to try to get his head straight.
i think mcenroes mindset was in such bad shape at the time, whoever he would have played, he would have taken time off. he didnt win a major the previous year, lost the no1 ranking to lendl, and had a very bad performance a month earlier in australian open. he didnt even want to play it but i think i read borg convinced him to go down there to try to get his top ranking back.