It is an unbelievably tough competition. It really does harden you up, playing for your country
Ahead of the 100th Davis Cup final this weekend, two-time winner Pat Cash remembers the second of his two triumphs in the team competition and how it helped him later in his career
Pat Cash was just 21 when he won the second of his two Davis Cup triumphs in 1986, coming back from two sets down against Mikael Pernfors in the fourth rubber to seal a thrilling triumph for Australia in Melbourne. The former world No.4 breaks down the emotions of that final in the next issue of tennishead magazine (out on December 6), but before you get your teeth in to that, here he admits that winning the competition in 1986 provided the catalyst for him to go on and achieve his career defining year in the game in 1987, reaching the Australian Open final and winning his lone Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon.
How did the 1986 Davis Cup final affect what happened the following year, when you made the Australian Open final and then went on to win Wimbledon? Was that your Djokovic Davis Cup moment if you like?
Cash: Djokovic’s moment was my moment. I was before him by about 25 years! But, absolutely. It is an unbelievably tough competition. It really does harden you up, playing for your country and having to deal with the pressure, fans and all that sort of stuff. It makes you a better player. The Australian Open for me was disappointing afterwards, losing the final to Edberg (Cash had beaten the Swede in straight sets in the opening rubber of the Davis Cup final), but I also got confidence. I had picked up a shoulder injury along the way and could only serve at about 50 per cent. Obviously I was playing so well in the rest of my game that I was able to get through [Ivan] Lendl in Melbourne, which obviously gave me a lot of confidence when it came to the Wimbledon final.
How do you compare winning the Davis Cup, and the emotions of that, with winning a Grand Slam?
Cash: I’ve always thought in many ways that it was a greater thrill because it was for my country and my mates. Australians always love their team sports and tennis is a very individual sport so that was a big moment. For me, the Wimbledon singles was an individual thing. For my team, my coach and my trainers it was more a celebration for us as my individual team and Davis Cup was for everyone. I can’t fathom why some players say they don’t want to play Davis Cup for their country. It just mystifies me.
Pat Cash was speaking at the launch of a new tennis wall at the Barclays Spaces for Sports (BS4S) Arsenal FC Flagship community sports facility – Rosemary Gardens, Islington. The wall was part-funded by BS4S, a community-based sports programme which uses sport as a platform to help young people develop life skills and revitalise disadvantaged communities in a sustainable way.
1986 DAVIS CUP FINAL
Kooyong, Melbourne, Australia
Australia 3-2 Sweden
P Cash (AUS) bt S Edberg (SWE) 13-11 13-11 6-4
M Pernfors (SWE) bt P McNamee (AUS) 6-3 6-1 6-3
P Cash & J Fitzgerald (AUS) bt S Edberg & A Jarryd (SWE) 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-1
P Cash (AUS) bt M Pernfors (SWE) 2-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-3