Pat says Murray’s gotit
PAT CASH can scarcely believe it, but it is 25 years since he played a significant part in what is still remembered as Super Saturday, one of the epic days in the history of US Open tennis.
Play at Flushing Meadows that day in 1984 began at 11.07am and ended at 11.16pm, embracing an over-35s match between John Newcombe and Stan Smith, a women’s final between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, in which the former prevailed 6-4 in the deciding set, and two thrilling five-set men’s semi-finals, with John McEnroe beating Jimmy Connors in one, and Cash yielding two match points in the other, before losing to Ivan Lendl.
A quarter of a century on, Cash smiles at the memory. “New York is notorious for the worst umpires,” he says.
“I was on the receiving end, losing a match point on a disputed call. It haunted me for a long time, but it made me keep pushing to get Lendl “ Cash said.
As the match progressed, with the juicy prospect of McEnroe v Connors to come, the crowd became raucous even by New York’s famously animated standards. Lendl had lost in the two preceding finals, and was the sentimental favourite.
But as the clear underdog, Cash, too, attracted thunderous support.
“It was about half and half, and they were going nuts. McEnroe later said, ‘I’ve got to thank you for beating Lendl up’. He’d been so sore after his semi, and was thinking ‘Oh God, I’ve got to play Lendl now’.
What, I ask him, are his thoughts about this year’s US Open, which begins on Monday. Last year, of course, Andy Murray reached the final. Can the Scotsman go a step further and win the thing?
“He can, and he loves the surface. But the balls suit him even more than the surface. So Murray can hit a lot of winners, which he was less able to do at the French (Open) and Wimbledon. He’ll win a Grand Slam, for sure, and he could get three or four, maybe even half a dozen.
“But that kind of depends on how long (Rafael) Nadal and (Roger) Federer stick around.”
In Murray’s game, Cash believes, there is still room for significant improvement.
“He has a very good attacking game, but he needs to learn when to use it.
“He sure knows a lot about tennis, and that will help him improve. At Wimbledon and the French he wasn’t sure when to step up and take the game to his opponent.”
Referring to McEnroe, Cash said even on the seniors circuit there is not much evidence of his old foe having fun.
But are the tantrums just McEnroe’s way of playing to the crowd?
“No, they’re real. Look, Mac just loses his temper all the time. It amazes me how competitive and mean the guy still is.”
– Belfast Telegraph
AIMING HIGH: Grand Slam prospect Andy Murray