Pat Cash, Wimbledon 1987

Wimbledon 1987: Pat Cash defeats Ivan Lendl

Extract from Pat Cash’s autobiography Uncovered:

I felt good when I walked onto court. Lendl and I had just been standing in opposite corners of the corridor, but we hadn’t spoken. I didn’t want to wish him good luck or anything else insincere. The weather was sweltering. Somebody said it was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit although I didn’t think it ever got that hot in England. The male occupants of the Royal Box were allowed to remove their jackets. Straightaway I put the heat on Lendl, testing him for 13 minutes as he struggled to hold his first service game.

My service was working well. I dropped only six points in six games before the tiebreaker and then moved to a 6-1 lead, giving me five set points. Lendl managed to save four, and though a moment of self-doubt came into my head, I immediately pushed it aside. Lendl had a good block backhand return and a great full swing backhand, but couldn’t play a shot in between. Could I tempt him to go for a full swing on a block backhand shot? I hoped so, and aimed at the spot on the court that wasn’t too wide to give him room to swing, but was sufficiently far enough over to tempt him. Bang! My serve hit the exact blade of grass. He over-swung and directed the backhand out. I was set up, and knew I had the match won. I was loose: the nerves had gone, and my game had switched into overdrive. During the second set I didn’t allow him a point on my serve, and with such an overwhelming lead, nothing was going to slip.

Because of all the rain in England that summer, I hadn’t done as much endurance work as I would have liked; over my career it’s the one facet of my make-up that has needed the most attention. Briefly I became concerned at the unlikely prospect of the match going to five sets, but soon suppressed such negative thoughts.

Lendl broke my serve in the third when I suffered a brief lapse in focus. This quite often happens if you are initially nervous and then relax yourself so much you lose some intensity. The body is slow to react to the brain, and it’s a matter of finding that fine line. Thankfully all the work I did with Jeff once more paid off, and again I snapped myself back to break his serve twice in succession. I remember my last service game and match point like it was only yesterday: I went 40-love up for three match points. Thank God it was an easy game, and I finished it all off with a volley that got behind Lendl and into the open court.

GAME, SET AND MATCH, MR CASH 7-6 6-2 7-5. I was the champion, and pumped my fist in the air. Then I shook Lendl by the hand and he just said well done. I was polite, and I could see his disappointment; but I came out with no more than the standard reply of bad luck. There was nothing else to say, we didn’t like each other, so there would be no sympathy. To me, some of these shows of emotion towards a beaten opponent over the Wimbledon net are false. I think it’s hypocritical to put your arms around each other and have a long chat. I know that’s what Ivanisevic and Rafter did last year, but I don’t buy that sort of show. Anyway, there had been other things planned for several months. I had some climbing to do.

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