Interview with Pat Cash - "I pay very little attention to Nick Kyrgios"

Pat Cash , Wimbledon winner from 1987, in a tennisnet conversation about legends, big stories and a compatriot.

by Jens Huiber
last edit: Dec 15, 2020, 07:35 am

Pat Cash would rather not listen to Nick Kyrgios
© Getty Images
Pat Cash would rather not listen to Nick Kyrgios

tennisnet: Mr. Cash. Can you settle a dispute for us? Who is the greatest legend in tennis?

Pat Cash: You mean in my time?

tennisnet: Let's start with that.

Cash: Certainly John McEnroe. At first it was probably Björn Borg. I also loved Jimmy Connors because I thought he was something very special. But McEnroe was the most famous. And most notorious. Because of the way he acted on the court. We had a lot of fantastic characters back then. Iron man Ivan Lendl, then came Mats Wilander. And of course Boris Becker. Winning Wimbledon at the age of 17 was just crazy. The 1980s were just amazing. There was one story after another. When we look back on that time today - and I'm currently working with several companies on a documentary about the 1980s - most people don't believe the stories we have to tell.

tennisnet: For example?

Cash: Wait a minute: a boy aged 17 won Wimbledon? Mats Wilander won the French Open at 18? Michael Chang even at 16? And Steffi Graf already had five major titles when she was just 17 years old? I can't even remember anything. But what kind of headlines would that be these days. Right now everything is dominated by three players, maybe four or five if you include Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

tennisnet: My choice would have been Andre Agassi.

Cash: He's a legend. But I was only talking about my time. Agassi came at the end of my career. He was more of an icon of the 90s. When did he win his first Grand Slam?

tennisnet: 1992 in Wimbledon.

Cash: That's a crazy story too. Because Agassi didn't like grass at all. There were some great personalities. We are lucky to have such a great sport. And it's great that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic still play great tennis.

tennisnet: Who impresses you in terms of personality of the players who are currently coming?

Cash: I think Stefanos Tsitsipas is an interesting person. There are always personalities. When someone plays something different, people get excited. And Tsitsipas sure is one of them. Dominic Thiem is exciting in a different way because he hits the ball extremely hard. Shapovalov is also an exciting player who loves to get online. Hmm They all play one-handed backhand, right?

"Rafa Nadal. Wow. What a player!"

tennisnet: With a view to the French Open 2020, it can be said that there has been no generation change. Rafael Nadal won the final against Novak Djokovic.

Cash: Rafa is just amazing. Wow. What a tennis player. Djokovic too, of course. One should never say never, but one can assume that we will never see a clay court player like him again. Björn Borg would have come closest to that, he too was almost impossible to beat. Nadal is fit, healthy, he is hungry. Then Federer comes back, who took a year off, he'll be fresh. It will take a little while to get his body fit for competition again. But we're talking about three of the greatest players of all time. As long as their bodies are okay, they actually get better every year! Because of their experience. If they don't get burned out mentally. But all three seem to have this single-mindedness. Of course, this cannot go on forever. With Rafa you could say: OK, if you involve him in long matches, he could have problems regenerating. But he always wins in the minimum time. It's phenomenal. For me it is the most difficult task in the history of the sport to win against Rafael Nadal in Paris. I can't think of anything that could be more difficult.

tennisnet: Nadal exudes an aura of invincibility as soon as you enter Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Cash: Think of any football team that is simply unbeatable in any stadium. Or someone who wins the Tour de France year after year. 13 times! It is actually unthinkable. If you had said that 20 years ago, you would have been locked in a madhouse. It is actually unimaginable that these guys won 20, 20 and 17 Grand Slams. There is something that motivates the three of them. It's fascinating. I was happy to win a Grand Slam title, to win the Davis Cup. I was very happy with my career. And Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are not happy with 20. And two or three Davis Cups.

tennisnet: Hand on your heart: Would you have rather won the Australian Open than Wimbledon? Your 1986 final against Mats Wilander was one of the best matches I've ever seen.

Cash: That was a great match. And it breaks my heart that I didn't get that title. I've been in two finals and played well in both. Under the circumstances then, but that would be going too far now. But winning Wimbledon has always been a dream for me. My first three priorities were to win at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the Davis Cup. Maybe at the US Open too. At the French Open, I knew that wasn't realistic. In Flushing Meadows I made it to the semi-finals and had match point there. I've achieved a lot of great things in a very short career. But no: I would never give my Wimbledon trophy back.

tennisnet: What should we think of Nick Kyrgios these days? He likes to sell himself as the voice of reason.

Cash: I know Nick. But I pay very little attention to what he has to say. If Nick Kyrgios gives us advice on how to behave, then we are in a worse situation than I thought.

The interview with Pat Cash took place in October as part of the ATP Challenger tournament in Ismaning.

by Jens Huiber

Dec 18, 2020, 08:10 am
last edit: Dec 15, 2020, 07:35 am