Pat Cash... Remembering 1987 Wimbledon (Part 3)
Thirty years ago, Pat Cash left no stone unturned in his pursuit of the ultimate prize. With exclusive insight from Cash and his closest friends, James Buddell of ATPWorldTour.com recounts how the Australian lifted the Wimbledon trophy
On day four of The Championships of 1987, during a wet first week, came ‘The Becker Wrecker’. Peter Doohan, today struggling with Motor Neuron Disease, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, sent shockwaves through the All England when he beat the only player Pat Cash feared, Boris Becker, the top seed and two-time defending champion, 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. As the World No. 301 it was, and arguably remains, the biggest upset in Open Era history, prompting Becker to famously remark, "I didn't lose a war. Nobody died. Basically, I just lost a tennis match." It was the earliest loss for a Wimbledon defending champion since 1967.
Obituary [July 2017]: Peter Doohan - 1961-2017
“We always talked about not getting in front of yourself, taking it one round at a time,” says Barclay. “Otherwise you go nuts. I remember we did talk about Becker’s exit, but Peter and Pat were mates. We were wrapped for him. I didn’t think it was worth enlarging on, the most important thing was the next match.”
Cash, the No. 11 seed, was too absorbed in his own routine. He'd turned down the opportunity to play with 'Boba' [Slobodan Zivojinovic] in the doubles, much to Barclay's displeasure. Nothing was taken for granted, and with Quinn, what Cash ate and how he prepared, were meticulously planned. From regular blood tests, which were sent to the United States to have every vitamin, mineral and amino acid tested, to the making of energy and recovery drinks, made up from a scientific formula, no stone was left unturned. Weighing 82 kilograms (180lbs), and with 4.2 per cent body fat, Cash’s intake was approximately 6,000 calories per day through five or six small meals. He was the fittest player on the circuit, and, at that period, the most advanced in how he and his team prepared. It was truly revolutionary for a tennis professional.
Cash and Quinn adopted a four-hour countdown to match-time, taking into account travel times to the All England Club. “Each morning we’d run half a mile to Bishops Park for a 45-minute session, where we’d stretch and undertake short, sharp agility and quick reaction drills on a cricket outfield, because it was pretty flat,” says Quinn, having reviewed her detailed notes from 30 years ago. “When we got to the Club, he obviously warmed up to go to practise at Aorangi Park and then we would also warm up again across the road at the golf course before his match. We would run to find a private patch of grass where no one was around, to do another tennis specific warm-up and quick agility drills.”
Cash got through Marcel Freeman, his great mate Paul McNamee — described as “like two brothers playing each other”, then Michael Schapers, “on a stinking hot humid day in four sets” — incredibly, his only lost set of the fortnight, on the second Monday. He then came up against Guy Forget, a junior rival. “I know that Guy didn’t play particularly well, hitting a few double faults,” says Cash. “I did play well and my game really started clicking in after the Schappers match. Sometimes you need those type of matches to start to toughen you up a bit.”
Barclay recalls, “Back in the locker room, Guy came over to me in a strange way and said, ‘They won’t beat him.’ Guy thought he’d played superbly, but got killed [6-2, 6-3, 6-4]. Pat looked better and better to me every day, when we went to practice he looked better, and every day he improved by a percentage. Not big, but just a ball bigger to him, until the ball almost got basketball shaped. No one could pass him or lob him. The things we’d worked hard on were coming to fruition. It was absolutely magic. When Guy came over to me to say that, I thought ‘Geez, Guy, you don’t make mistakes.’ I didn’t tell Pat anything.”
Back at Queensmill Road in Fulham, Cash was denied the opportunity to read newspapers, so he wasn’t influenced by anything. He’d take massages every day and food would be prepared and delivered. A friend of Anne-Britt would come in to assist and de-stress the situation. Between changing Daniel’s nappies, something Cash enjoyed doing, he’d sit quietly and visualise his matches. Quinn and Cash’s father, a lawyer and former Aussie Rules footballer with Hawthorns, “spent 20 hours putting together a video tape of his best points on grass courts. Finished professionally, it was set to his favourite music, and Pat would watch the same video every day… Pat and I also looked at videos of every stroke, how he approached the net etc., and provided really detailed analysis on every match, his muscles and how they worked. It was really ahead of its time.”
As it continued to rain, particularly during the first week, Aorangi Park was closed off to players, so Barclay would call up the Royal Air Force weather forecasters and drive all over the south of England in search of a dry grass court. The level of detail was phenomenal and as Cash closed in on the final – not dropping a point on serve in the second set of his excellent quarter-final victory over Mats Wilander, then coming through all the tricks of Jimmy Connors, who had the crowd support, in the semi-finals — the 22-year-old Australian knew there was to be no second prize.
Cash had been terribly unlucky in the 1987 Australian Open final, when he lost to Stefan Edberg 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, but the experience had once again focused his mind and forced him to work that much harder — just as it had done at every stage of his tennis career. It was a relaxed house on the Saturday, 24 hours before the 1987 Wimbledon final, Barclay and Bond mowed the lawn, Cash had a massage, went through his daily routine with Quinn, and then travelled to Hammersmith to hire a Moss Brother dinner jacket. He then went to Surbiton to practise with Darren Cahill at 2 p.m., and later watched Charles Bronson in the film Murphy's Law. “I knew I was the fittest guy on the circuit, and some of the Aussies had practised with [Ivan] Lendl as Rochey [Tony Roche] was his coach,” says Cash. “They knew what I was doing was way in advance of what Lendl was doing. I knew that I was going to be fitter and faster. But it’s actually doing it.”
Sometimes Barclay had taken Daniel to the nearby park, a way to give Cash and his girlfriend, Anne-Britt, a break. One day, when it had been raining, Barclay took all the pillows in the house and made a slide in his bedroom. “It was great fun, and Daniel was killing himself laughing,” remembers Barclay. “When Pat returned, he asked Daniel, ‘What did you do?’ Daniel, with a smile, said, 'I’ve been sliding!’” With less than 18 hours until the biggest match of his life, Cash, Anne-Britt and Daniel stayed at home together, alone. The others all went out for a meal. The work had been done.