‘I was 2 points short of achieving all my goals.’ Pat Cash – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 87
Pat Cash, Wimbledon Champion, two-times Davis Cup Champion, and a five-time Grand Slam finalists shares his story how he was 2 points short of reaching all his goals by the age of 22, the 1 point that almost broke his career, the meaning behind his tattoo, how he struggled with mental health issues, and his philanthropic project to raise awareness for the indigenous Australians.
Furthermore, we discuss
- The story behind his Wimbledon winning tennis racket
- His darkest moment
- The reasons for his short career
- His best moment
- How he was two points short of the Australian Open title
- His advice to a younger Pat Cash
- Why he stuck with his coach for most of his career
- His Olympic experience in 1984, and why he decided not to go to the 1988 Olympic Games
- His success habits
- How he beat almost everyone in the fitness testing
- His morning routine
- How to prepare for important moments
- How to overcome setbacks
- The 1 point that sparked his motivation and determination to become successful
- How he had struggled with mental health issues
- His role model
- The Wimbledon quarterfinal in 1988 where he tumbled over the net
- The best advice he has received
- The meaning of the tattoo on his arm
- A typical training day in the life of a Wimbledon champion
- Does he prefer Kooyong Stadium or Melbourne Park
- The best player to never win Wimbledon
- The best serve and volley player ever
- Who was the better volley player, Stefan Edberg or Pat Cash
- Do you need to change the grip on the forehand and backhand volley
- If he could travel back in time to the Australian Open final ’88 to the 5th set at 6:6, where he was a breakpoint down and his backhand volley was called out. With today’s technology, would he challenge the call
- His interview nomination
- His involvement in a philanthropic project where he wants to raise awareness for the situation of the indigenous Australians
- What’s going on in the life of Pat Cash at this moment in time
- Where can you find Pat Cash
Christian: In this interview, I’m joined by Pat Cash, Wimbledon Champion 1987, a five-time Grand Slam finalists and a two times Davis Cup Champion.
Pat: Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
Christian: Pat, it’s my honor. There’s a story I would like to share, normally I don’t do this because I want the guests to talk, but I have to start with a short story. I applied for a Strength and Conditioning position in the LTA [Lawn Tennis Association] back in 2007/2008.
I went on to the second round, and I was interviewed by a panel and one of the persons on the panel was your former trainer, Ann Quinn. So they asked me questions and at the end of the interview, they said it was all good. They also wanted to know if I had any questions for them.
Then I told them that I had a question for Ann Quinn. She asked me what I wanted to know. I asked how it was for her to work with you. And now I have the honor to speak to you.
Pat: I hope she gave you a nice answer.
Christian: I’m pretty sure she did, in fact, I still remember what she said.
The story behind his Wimbledon winning tennis racket
Christian: You have been famous for your Wimbledon climb, and I’m not going to talk about that because you probably talked about that many times. But there’s also a story to it that apparently the winner has to give his racket to the club and you changed the racket or something?
Pat: I don’t remember that. You don’t have to give your racket to the club, but they did have a museum. They were building the museum not long after that. So they did ask me for the original headband and you can find that in the museum.
But I don’t remember, having to give my racket, but you might be right. That’s a long time ago now; it’s 30 something years ago. I do have a couple of the rackets left and in actual fact, I just found the one that I hit the winning goal with. I thought it was gone and I found it.
A friend of mine back in Australia asked if I wanted a particular racket and I realized that it was the one. It was the same grip and everything. I told him that I wanted it, so he told me he had just kept it along with my Davis Cup trophy.
So I was moving houses and everything, and being my best friend, he said he would keep them. And in actual fact, it was funny because he had it hanging up in his garage along with Ivan Lendl’s racket. I reminded him how I got that racket.
I had asked Ivan for a racket, but it wasn’t the one from Wimbledon. It was later that year that I had asked him. So then I had the two rackets of 1987. My friend told me that he just hung it up in his garage.
I asked him if he wasn’t worried about it getting stolen. He told me that if anybody comes into his house and is going to steal something, they’re not going to go for two old rackets they think of as 30 years old and broken strings. He said they would go straight to the TV or the computer.
My friend had my Wimbledon racket hanging up in his garage along with Ivan Lendl’s racket. I asked him if he wasn’t worried about it getting stolen. He told me that if anybody comes into his house and is going to steal something, they’re not going to go for two old rackets they think of as 30 years old and broken strings.
I thought that that was good thinking. He said that if they looked around the back and he was hiding in there, then they’d probably think that it was special. There it was just hanging out there for years. I completely forgot about it.
Check out Pat Cash’s famous Wimbledon climb
His darkest moment
Christian: Pat, in your life as an athlete, what was your darkest moment?
Pat: I had a lot of injuries, as you know. In retrospect, maybe I trained too hard. We talked about Ann Quinn. She was just fantastic. We were very cutting edge at the time of what we knew.
And now, of course, 30 years later, we know a lot more about recovery, about physiotherapy, and about rehab. I did a lot of work; a lot of stretching, a lot of recovery, and all sorts of a little exercise. I learned to do the small exercises to strengthen your back and your knees and all that sort of thing. But, I probably went too hard and I got into a chain of injury and recovery, injury, and recovery.
I had a lot of injuries, in retrospect, maybe I trained too hard. I got into a chain of injury and recovery, injury, and recovery.
So there was always something that was setting me back. And I think probably the trickiest time in my career and my personal life at some dark times then, was that I had a knee tracking issue.
Let me try to explain it in a simple way. When the knee moves, it goes into a groove in between the bones. It’s supposed to go in that groove all the time. Now, if your muscles are imbalanced, the knee instead of going up and down, they go making scraping sounds and they’ll go along the side there.
Now, this is supposed to be reasonably easy to fix. I had Jenny McConnell, who’s become famous – McConnell taping – and most of the knee and shoulder taping, she invented that 25 to 30 years ago and it is still being used today.
So I went with her to try and get the knee fixed. She told me that it would be really tricky and that I have to be really careful. She said it would take somewhere between one or two months to a maximum of three months to do.
Anyway, a year passed and I still couldn’t do it. She kept saying that my knees were very unusual. It was very strange. I started getting all these special treatments, massaging various things trying to loosen my knee cap up.
My knees were very tight and so here I was a year later and saying that it should only have taken me a couple of months. And I’m watching all these players come through and players I used to beat, and some of them sailing in the top 10 of the tennis world, and then would come 13 months and then 14 months.
I had a knee tracking issue, it was supposed to be reasonably easy to fix and it would take somewhere between one or two months to a maximum of three months to do. A year passed and I’m watching all these players come through, players I used to beat, and some of them sailing in the top 10 of the tennis world.
She told me that I could not go back to the tennis court until I got it right. She said I would not last more than a month. I couldn’t walk upstairs. I couldn’t walk downstairs. I literally couldn’t walk up and downstairs with so much pain.
I remember probably the worst time was when the head of my leg was strapped up and I had this biofeedback machine. So the electrodes were on there to read the timing of the muscles. One muscle would go on – the quiet goes before the other one;
It’s all quite complicated, but I had all these machines strapped up to me, and my legs taped up. And I remember trying to walk up the stairs and I just couldn’t. I just broke down into tears.
When I say trying, I was pulling my hair out in frustration. I was literally trying to pull my hair out. I was so angry and so sad. I was just a mess. I thought that I was never ever going to get it. But I did bit by bit and it’s never been perfect ever since.
It took me 16 months to get back, so I could start running and playing, but that was a really dark time because I didn’t break anything. I didn’t snap, rip, or tear off anything. I just couldn’t get this little thing working.
Then I had the same problem with the knee ironically, and I did get it quicker, but I didn’t get it perfect. I’ve had about six surgeries on it, more minor, but it’s caused little grinding. Things keep chipping off. So injuries are the worst things I think for a player.
- Also check out the interview ‘Have respect for people.’ with 1992 Silver Medalist Jordi Arrese , who outlines how he struggled with injuries throughout his career and had to end his career, because of injuries.
And then coming back is so frustrating because you go back to being a club player. You’re not much better than a local club player, and you have to build yourself up and you’re a Wimbledon Champion.
I remember trying to walk up the stairs and I just couldn’t. I just broke down into tears. I was so angry and so sad. I was just a mess. I thought that I was never ever going to get it.
And as soon as you get back on and start playing, everybody wants to beat you because you’re a Wimbledon Champion, who’s half the speed. So they ruthlessly want to beat you and you want to be back to where you were.
Then it was the knee and it was the Achilles and then it was the back and it was the other knee and then it was the other knee again. After a while, it just kept going backward and forwards, one injury after the other. If you look at my career, actually as far as matches are concerned, I had a very pretty short career. I just crammed a lot into a few years. The rest of it was on and off the circuit, the last, probably eight years of my career.
The reasons for his short career
Christian: I’ve written that down as a question for later, but it fits perfectly here. For me, I am still an avid tennis fan. You were always up there with the Becker’s, Edberg’s, Wilander’s, and Lendl’s, but your career seemed to be a bit shorter. Is that because of what you just explained?
Pat: I came through pretty young. There are not many players who do come through quite quickly in Australia. Australians typically take a while to get going. Leighton Hewitt, the 16-year old, came through very quickly, which is amazing.
So at the age of 18 years, I got to the US Open and I won the 1983 Davis Cup. Then I had a good year, then the next year was semi-final US Open, semifinal Wimbledon and then I hurt my back.
When I had my back surgery, they were reasonably confident I would come back. But again, they just didn’t know enough about the physiotherapy and all the small muscles and things like that.
So I just went on a campaign to get as strong as I possibly could and that’s when I found Ann [Quinn] . I thought that I came back pretty well. Then, just as I was coming back, I had an appendix attack in 1986, just before Wimbledon. I ended up getting to the quarter-finals playing really well.
I was coming back, I was playing really well. and then I had an appendix attack in 1986, just before Wimbledon.
I think still to this day, it’s the highest jump anybody’s ever had. I was 400 or 300 and something in the world and I got to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and I moved up to 70 or something like that. So it was one of the highest, if not the highest jump ever in the ATP. That ranking system was a bit strange in those days.
I had a few good years and then after that, I broke my Achilles in 1989 when I was at Wimbledon. Then after that, it was just on and off, on and off for the rest of my career. So I suppose I really only had sort of three or maybe four good years.
His best moment
Christian: What was your best moment?
Pat: It sounds a bit strange saying this now, but I regard Wimbledon win and Davis Cup wins as equal and just as important. For Wimbledon, not personally, of course, and I think that’s become more famous.
I regard Wimbledon win and Davis Cup wins as equal and just as important.
The Davis Cup, unfortunately over the last 10 years or so within a few exceptions of a few countries has lost its luster. But back in my era, everybody played Davis Cup and it was as important as the Grand Slams.
The first things you did in the year, you knew your Grand Slam schedules, and then you waited for the draw. You planned your whole year around Davis Cup and the Grand Slams and everything else was a warm-up tournament.
It was a tournament, so, of course, you tried hard, but I always felt that fit and I liked playing five sets which was a true test. That was what the Grand Slams and the Davis Cup was all about. So for me, Davis Cup was hugely important.
Back in my era, you planned your whole year around Davis Cup and the Grand Slams and everything else was a warm-up tournament.
McEnroe and Borg were always incredibly passionate about that. Then I remember very clearly, round about the early 1990s, Andre Agassi came into one of the media. There was a discussion about how he decided he didn’t want to play. It was absolutely enormous, worldwide news.
Agassi was talking to his manager or somebody in a restaurant and literally behind him in the booth was a media person. And they overheard him saying that he was sick and did not want to play Davis Cup. This guy released it and he said, Agassi, faked this injury so not to play Davis Cup.
That was absolutely massive. Then Sampras decided that he was not going to play the Davis Cup either. And those two guys are the first two guys that said they’re not going to play it.
Then Philippoussis decided that he didn’t want to play Davis Cup for Australia. That was the biggest mistake because Australians will not accept that. Mark’s a really nice guy, but that wasn’t a great move for him.
He got such a hard time and such bad publicity in Australia for that. But then bit by bit, it’s become commonplace. Sampras said that it was more important for him to do his ranking and that he was going to concentrate on himself.
And we are a selfish bunch of people because we are in an individual sport, but Davis Cup was still to the Australians as massively important. I couldn’t separate Wimbledon.
The Davis Cup was probably more fun because I had my teammates to cheer with me and have fun and laugh and have dinner afterward. And so any of those Davis Cup wins were fantastic.
How he was two points short of the Australian Open title
Christian: I think that’s also where it started for you in 1986, right? You won the Davis Cup, almost single-handedly, you won your singles and the doubles and then 1987, you came to the Aussie Open Final, 1987 Wimbledon, and then 1988, Aussie Open Final, two-point short of the title?
Pat: It was very close. I played a couple of good finals. The one that really got away, was the last one at Kooyong on the grass where I played Edberg in the final in 1997. I’d beaten him in the Davis Cup, probably six weeks before and I thought I could win that one.
Unfortunately, I picked up a shoulder injury along the way, and you look at some of the replays on the match, you can see my serving was pretty average. I could only serve maybe three-quarter pace and he jumped into two sets lead easily. Then I clawed my way back to the fifth set, but I couldn’t get it. So I felt like that was the one that got away.
Check out the highlights from the 1987 Australian Open final
I was struggling with my serve and if it was any other tournament, I probably wouldn’t have played. I would just have defaulted, but you can’t default Australian Open Final against Edberg.
Then the final one year later, at the Aussie Open 1988, against Wilander, that was five sets as well. I hit six in the fifth set and that was a great match. I was beating Lendl, the number one player in the world, in the semi-final and I think that just took a little bit of sting out of me. I won 8-6 in the fifth set.
And then the final, Mats and I played a great final, we had rain delays in between, which broke a bit my momentum, and I just couldn’t quite get on top of Mats’ serve. He was serving really well in that last fifth set.
Check out the highlights from the 1988 Australian Open final
So to lose two times in a row in the Australian Open Final in close five sets is a heart breaker. Certainly, every time I go back to Melbourne Park, it breaks my heart. I got to be honest.
To lose two times in a row in the Australian Open Final in close five sets is a heart breaker. Certainly, every time I go back to Melbourne Park, it breaks my heart.
But I look back at the career and I ask myself what I really wanted to achieve. I wanted to win Wimbledon. I wanted to win Davis Cup and I wanted to win the Australian Open and jeez, I was within two points of achieving all my goals really, in over about three or four years. So it was pretty good.
His advice to a younger Pat Cash
Christian: If you could travel back in time, 10, 20, 30 years, what advice would you give a younger Pat?
Pat: If I would have given myself advice, I don’t know if I would have listened. That is the thing. I think, probably I was a bit too intense. I probably worked a little too hard. I needed to get slightly more relaxation on that side of the game.
If I would have given myself advice, I don’t know if I would have listened. That is the thing.
There’s an element too because you got to be super fit. We now know more about recovery, ice baths, stretching, and all that stuff. So you’re able to back up and the players can recover quickly.
In my day, we didn’t have that, so you just kept pushing through. I worked unbelievably hard, probably too hard. I needed to, maybe do a little bit more meditation, although I did have a Sports Psychologist.
I did a lot of work on that aspect of my career then, which was just a new part of sports really. Sports psychology was just coming in and I think that was hugely beneficial to me. But I had a lot of stress off the court.
I had two young children with my girlfriend. We were separating and that was very stressful to deal with. I think all that extra external stress actually didn’t help me as far as staying physically strong and fit.
So somehow you need to be able to release that or manage it. Ideally, you should release it. I could manage it a little bit, but I suppose in a way today I would’ve said that I should chill out and not worry about it.
I was a World Champion racket thrower and racket smasher. I was very good at it. I had it down to a fine art how to break a racket into one piece or a million and one depends on how I threw it.
I was a World Champion racket thrower and racket smasher. I was very good at it.
But I can honestly say in the last 20 years, and I’m still playing Legends events and coaching a lot, I have not broken a racket. So, it’s just chill out. Don’t worry about it.
That’s the great thing about tennis is that even when you lose a point, you got another chance to make up for that. You just tell yourself to get on with it. So, that sort of attitude, I think is a better attitude than just getting angry.
Christian: I believe that.
Why he stuck with his coach for most of his career
Christian: In the tennis world, we quite often see if the player doesn’t have results, then he or she changes the coach. Sometimes that’s justified sometimes not. You had a bit of a bad boy image for whatever reason, but you stuck with your coach for most of your career. Why was that?
Pat: I think Ian Barclay was one of the few people who understood me very well. In those days, you’re stuck with a coach for a long time. I think most of the players had coaches for several years or even their whole career.
Ian Barclay was one of the few people who understood me very well.
McEnroe didn’t really have a coach, but Wilander had a coach for several years. Lendl also had Tony Roche for years. Becker and Bresnik also did the same thing.
You went through certainly a large part of your career with a coach, trying to develop and to get better and better. You get an understanding and you make a game plan and then you just try and work on it together.
I understand that sometimes things are really broken down and you can’t talk to somebody anymore or you don’t like them, but I knew Ian since I was 12 years. He was like my second father to me. So the relationship was very good in that way.
It wasn’t until I was the late twenties that I was kept coming on and off an injury and so Ian had to go and get a proper job. He worked in England with LTA for a bit. And then I started to relearn about the game of tennis and I was injured.
Maybe one of the best things that happened to me in my career is that I ran into a biomechanist and I started to learn about the science of body movement and tennis. I think that’s a hugely important area of tennis. I think it’s almost better to understand how the body moves than to have experience on the tennis court.
I was lucky that I had a biomechanist called Brad Langevad. He’s Australian and he was a tennis player who played on the lower circuits and quit. He went to university and learned all about body movement and came back with a theory on how tennis is supposed to be played.
The crazy thing was when I was towards the end of my career and I was coming back from an injury, I was playing Wimbledon qualifying. I think I’m the only Wimbledon champion to ever have to go back and play qualifying.
I was playing Wimbledon qualifying. I think I’m the only Wimbledon champion to ever have to go back and play qualifying.
But I went back and played qualifying. I qualified and then the last round, he came out and said hello and I’ve done some work with him, fixing my serve after back surgery. I had to change my serve and he helped me do that a little bit.
And he came up to me afterward and asked him what he thought about my serve. He told me that could have been better. He then gave me a letter which he made me promise not to open until I had finished Wimbledon.
I put it in my bag and forgot about it. Anyway, a few weeks, after cleaning out my bag at Wimbledon, I saw the letter. So I opened the letter. He basically wrote that he saw me play one match and he’d written down all the things that I can’t do and all the shots that I needed to improve and how the players beat me.
He knew my game inside out from watching one match. So I was trying to find out how he knew that. I asked if he’d been following me every week. He still said that he only saw one match.
He told me biomechanically what I could and could not do. I said that I would never get the power that I want until I fix all those things. This was at the end of my career when I needed power.
All the injuries made me a bit slower than I was. So I told him that I wanted to learn more. So we worked on rebuilding my game for over about two or three years. So I was about 28, 29 or 30 and it was kind of a bit too late then.
At the age of 30, my serve was much harder than it was throughout my career. It was crazy. My forehand was better. My volleys were better. Everything was better, but at this stage, I was burned out and I didn’t want to go back and start playing future tournaments or that sort of thing.
I had family and I just couldn’t get into the tournament. People were sick of me. They wondered if I wasn’t retired. The attitude then was that I was 30 so I should just retire. Once you hit 30, you were done. It’s finished.
I’d like to go back in time to some of those people including the ATP. I suggested that we should have a rule that Grand Slam Champions can get a wild cart if they want to play. It doesn’t take away another wild card from a junior or whatever.
Everyone said it was a great idea and all the Grand Slam Champion signed it. I handed it to them and they were not interested. I want to go back to those people and remind them that they said I was 30 and I was done.
I want to go back and tell them there’s still life left in a player at 30 years. You laugh about that now. But in my era, when you’re 30, you were regarded as done. They tell you to retire and go back and do something else.
In my era, when you’re 30, you were regarded as done. They told you to retire and do something else. You laugh about that now.
So that really irritated me, and as you see, I’m still irritated about it. It was this stupid attitude. And I was really excited about playing tennis or playing really well. I was fit, all my injuries had disappeared. But now I’m passing that on in my tennis coaching knowledge.
Coaching is very different from playing, you learn to be more a type of manager, like your football manager. So you don’t run the fitness session. You don’t run the defensive plays, but you are involved in the fitness plays. You’re involved in getting the plays. You’re managing the team or the player and the tactics and all that sort of stuff.
It doesn’t mean that you actually go out and you do all the drills. You have somebody else doing it. And that’s what tennis has become. That was a team that I had. I had Ann Quinn; I had a sport psychologist. I had various people that would work with me, like a physio.
In actual fact, in 1987, I had so many people on my team that I couldn’t get them in the Royal box or the player’s box because they didn’t accept them. They wanted to know who those people were. I told them they were my sports psychologist, physio, and trainer.
They just told me that I couldn’t have those people. Even though I insisted that they were my people, they still said that I could not have them and that nobody else has those people. They said that I had too many people and would not give me tickets for them.
No matter how I insisted that they were my team, they still said that nobody had a team like that. They literally told me that I cannot have a team of more than one person. Now, look at it. They had to extend the box now, but then they literally wouldn’t give me any tickets.
In actual fact, in 1987, I had so many people on my team that I couldn’t get them in the Royal box because they didn’t accept them. They literally told me that I cannot have a team of more than one person.
But I had to end up finding tickets around the place there eventually. But it was obvious to me that that’s what the player needed. My coach knew it.
He knew various things about everything, but he wasn’t a specialist. That’s what the teams are now. They’re specialists, whether it be fitness or mental. You’re the car and you’re the driver as a plan.
Christian: I’ve even seen nowadays, there are teams with two Strength and Conditioning Coaches for one tennis player.
Pat: Yes, I don’t know how that works. I got to be honest. I think there’s a lot of conflict in a few of those teams. I know there is because that’s the other thing. There’s always stuff to learn.
A Strength and Conditioning Coach may be good in one area, but he may not be an expert in another area. So you have to be open-minded enough. The problem is certain people will talk to the players and the politics involved in some of this is crazy.
– Also check out the interview ‘Expect that this journey will take an incredibly long time.’ with Andy Murray’s Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Little, who explains the importance of a well-functioning team and how to achieve and maintain a well-functioning team.
I’m not into politics, but everybody needs to get on well and if somebody has a word or they don’t know what they’re talking about, and then there’s bad blood in the team. And then you’re supposed to forget it. You go ahead and do your own thing, but yes, it can get very messy.
His Olympic experience in 1984, and why he decided not to go to the 1988 Olympic Games
Christian: The theme of this interview series is “High-Performance Athletes”, but also focused on Olympic athletes. You participated in the demonstration event at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. How was your experience?
Pat: Terrible, it was absolutely awful. That was a demonstration that bringing tennis back to the Olympics should not have happened. It was 1984. So I got the semifinals in Wimbledon, I came home, I needed to rest and it was the Olympics.
I missed out the opening ceremony. The tennis was in the second week. The opening ceremony was there the first week but I regret not going. I think I would have really got fired up, but I was tired, and besides, I flew over with three day’s practice.
We were in a dormitory. Two Aussie guys were in the small room. He had a proper bed. I had a pullout bed out from the wall, so it just essentially flopped down the wall and the window had no blinds.
I was jet-lagged. So the sun would come up at five o’clock. There were no blinds and there was no toilet. You had to walk down there to the toilet and everybody hated us because we were pro players. They’re still amateurs, so nobody liked us tennis players being there.
It was an absolute shambles. I got upset and said I was not going to the Seoul 1988 Olympics. This is shocking. It’s one of the things I regret in my career because I really do think I could have won the gold medal, but you have to be fired up for it and keen and I think most of the players didn’t turn up.
Terrible, it was absolutely awful. I got upset and said I was not going to the Seoul 1988 Olympics. It’s one of the things I regret in my career because I really do think I could have won the gold medal,
I think Becker went. Lendl didn’t go. So not many of the players did. I think it was only in Barcelona 1992 a year after that, I think, Rosset won, but Agassi turned up and a few of the guys. Steffi Graf, I think she won, didn’t she?
So the players started turning up, but until then nobody regarded it for a while. Now tennis is not supposed to be in the Olympics. It was amateurs. It didn’t feel like we should be there. We were treated poorly.
Obviously, attitudes change and I wish I had done that. We had Davis Cup. Davis Cup was a big thing for us and as I said back then a gold medal doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t mean anything because nobody plays tennis at the Olympics. So it didn’t have that same thing.
His success habits
Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?
Pat: The main thing I think is being open-minded. That has really been very important and that’s why I developed this team and why I realized I needed help and I needed to improve in certain areas.
And the determination to be as good as you possibly can is the most important thing. Without getting obsessed with changing things, I think you got to stick by a path, but you also have to have an open mind about what path that is or if somebody can help you become better.
- Also check out the interview ‘Focus on one way.’ with 2012 Olympic Champ Aleksey Torokhtiy, who outlines the importance of sticking to one path.
The goal is just to strive to be the best is a good way because I suppose you’re never fully satisfied. This is one of the disappointing things because you’ve always got things to improve. It keeps you away from a slightly goal-orientated success.
The determination to be as good as you possibly can is the most important thing. The goal is just to strive to be the best is a good way because I suppose you’re never fully satisfied.
So, in other words, you’re always looking slightly down the path and telling yourself that you’ll play better next week or that you’ll work on things in the week. Yes, Wimbledon time, but I’ve got things to work on. If I can improve – if I can do that, the results will come.
Having used the sports psychologist and having that sort of attitude of setting the point up was what we did during Wimbledon and during that couple of years. It was having a plan to set the point up and try and finish it off.
It wasn’t about how you’re going to win. It was about if you can set the point out well if you can do this and get yourself into the position where you can win the point. If you can finish the point enough times, then success will come.
It wasn’t about how you’re going to win. It was about if you can set the point out well and get yourself into the position where you can win the point. If you can finish the point enough times, then success will come.
That was great because you don’t need to be serving for the match. You’d be serving for a Wimbledon title; you’re serving for a big tournament. So you see it as a challenge. I’ve become aware of this issue.
This is a goal of mine to be able to serve three first serves. I want to get my first serve in when I’m serving for the match. And so you’re not thinking about “love 15 or 15 all or whatever”. You are not thinking about the point, but just thinking that you’re going to get the first serve in.
That’s what I wanted and everything else will be automatic. As I played serve and volley, I would serve and come to the net regularly, and then everything was reflex. So, we’re focused on certain things. If you could apply those and do those well, then there’s a good chance that you could walk away with the victory at the end of the day.
If you didn’t, you would lose. It’s as simple as that. And so it wasn’t all about that. It was about finding a goal, finding something that you need to improve on that day so that everything comes together.
Christian: So focus on the process and then the results will follow.
Pat: Yes. It’s good to have goals, there’s no doubt that it’s good to have some form of a goal. You’d know if you ask a young athlete what they want to do or what they want to be. Every kid puts their hand up and says that they want to be the number one player.
It used to be that they want to win Davis Cup or Wimbledon. Now they want to be the number one player in the world, whatever that has to be. They want to win a gold medal. They want to win the Championships. They want to be playing in the World Cup.
When you ask how they plan to do that, they don’t know. So you ask them if they’re going to be a football player, whether they can kick with both feet. If they say know, you want to ask them how they plan to be the best then. You suggest that they should maybe kick with their left foot as well.
If you ask a young athlete what they want to do or what they want to be. Every kid puts their hand up and says that they want to be number one player, win Davis Cup or Wimbledon, or they want to be playing in the World Cup. When you then ask them how they plan to do that, they don’t know.
They must have a plan. So you encourage them to go and work on their left foot or other skills, such as their crosses or their backhand or whatever it happens to be. So, it’s good to have little goals, but I think having a random goal is kind of pointless.
How he beat almost everyone in the fitness testing
Christian: There’s a question I’ve written down. I was a young boy, I was following tennis passionately. And in Germany where I used to live, in the biggest tennis magazine, there was a three-part series about you.
And I told a story about some fitness testing done by the Australian Institute of Sport, and you had to do tests. Apparently, they compared athletes across all sports and you were on top of every category, but there was one test you didn’t come out on top, which was a five-meter sprint or 10-meter sprint, which was one of the first tests of the day. At the end of the day, you ask if you can re-do the test because you wanted to be the best in this test as well. Is that story true?
Pat: Not quite, but with Ann Quinn, we did pre-season testing to get an idea of where I was in my fitness. So we did a pre-season, that would have been in December with the Australian Open being in mid-January.
So we’re getting a baseline of where I’m at and what I need to do. We did sprints, we did the agility test, we did a max VO2 [maximum oxygen uptake], which is the speed endurance, hamstring and quad test, and various things like that.
There was a whole bunch of things. We spend a whole day at one of the Institutes in Melbourne actually, I did the 10-meter sprint, so it was basically like the first or second day back in training and it was fast.
We did two or three test trials and then you move on. And it was fast. We knew it was fast and they said that it was the fastest they’ve seen there at the Institute. It was a Victorian Institute. It wasn’t worldwide or Australian.
I did all the other things. I was never incredible at endurance. I was more of a speed person. So the endurance was always something I needed to continue to work on. But the speed, I was good at and as it turned out afterward a few days later, they said that we blasted around in Australia.
They said it was the fastest they’ve ever seen in Australia for a 10-minute sprint. I was amazed. So she called up, went around and asked around the world and they said, that’s the fastest we’ve ever seen anywhere in the world at a 10-meter sprint, which is a pretty standard test.
I was never incredible at endurance. I was more of a speed person. They said it was the fastest they’ve ever seen in Australia for a 10-minute sprint. So she called up and asked around the world and they said, that’s the fastest we’ve ever seen anywhere in the world at a 10-meter sprint.
As it turned out that became a bit of a challenge for other athletes to beat it and the Australian field hockey goalkeeper beat it. But he said that when the players run out, he has to go stop that on the field in field hockey. I can’t remember his name now, but that was my first day of pre-season.
So I figured that I got a bit faster than that. When Ben Johnson won the 1988 Olympics, when he did the drug test he got banned, but he got famous for jumping out of the blocks so quickly. My 10 meters was actually faster than his 10 meters, and I didn’t have any blocks to push off.
I was very quick over a short distance, but I struggled with endurance. At school, they used to give me a cross country race and I complained. I used to start off winning. I’d win the first hundred meters and then ended up about number 50.
His morning routine
Christian: Do you have a morning routine?
Pat: Yes. My morning routine is pretty simple. The first thing I do is I get up and I eat some berries or some fruit, a little bit of simple and complex carbs. I make myself a cup of tea. I live in England, so I love my tea. You know what the English are like.
Then I do my meditation. That’s the first thing I do. I do my meditation first thing in the morning and I’ll do that every day unless I have to urgently run to an airport or something like that. So that sets my day up.
I do my meditation first thing in the morning.
I believe that’s very important. I follow doing a Sports Psychology program at the moment, and I’m going to be a mentor in that. But I also follow closely a thing called a Course in Miracles. It’s non-religious really, sort of Christian based, but they call it a new Bible.
As I said, it’s non-religious, but it’s kind of similar to Marcus Aurelius who’s a famous stoic, and he had his book of meditations and it’s similar to that. It’s a daily type of meditation and things to follow.
As I’m talking to you now, all these reminders are popping up on my screen to do certain things. You remind yourself throughout the day of things that you have to do. It keeps your head on your shoulders, so to speak.
It’s very appropriate in this weird situation we have in the world at the moment. It helps you to focus on things and not to get anxiety, even though I don’t know anybody who’s not stressed about something at the moment. So that’s very important to me.
At this moment, I am coaching, so in the mornings, I go straight up pretty much have some breakfast and getting straight onto the tennis court. So I’m lucky I’m able to still work in a good environment with Brandon Nakashima, a young player, who’s gone from zero to 212 in the world within six months.
So the young American, Brandon Nakashima, has done very well. He got the U S Open Jr. semifinal last year, and I’m lucky to work with him. He’s a real talent and so that’s exciting. I wanted to work with a young player and he’s a great kid.
I believe he’ll be very successful. I don’t know how successful, but I think he’ll be a top 30 player if all goes well. Hopefully, we’ll see him seated in the Grand Slam, maybe even next year or probably 2022.
How to prepare for important moments
Christian: How do you prepare yourself for important moments?
Pat: What would be an important moment for me at the moment? It’s a little bit stressful to do talks or something along those lines. For lack of a better term, I do motivation and some inspirational talk and I do quite a lot of those around the Grand Slams primarily.
In a weird way, it did help my intuition and my confidence. I’ve learned to trust my intuition a lot and I’m not a great planner. I let things happen to me and I tend to react from that because, in my opinion, I didn’t really know what’s good for me.
I’ve learned to trust my intuition a lot.
I say that because I’m not a child anymore. I knew I have to follow what my mom and dad say. But in this weird, crazy world that there is, I don’t think anybody really knows what’s good for them.
We follow a path of what we’ve been told we should be doing, whether that’s having a job, having a family, doing this, and doing that. As the psychotherapist, Friederich Nietzsche used to say, it’s just like following the sheep. I don’t believe in following the sheep.
I believe in getting guided by the higher power from that and it’s not always easy to tune into that higher power. However, I tend to think that they are leading the way and in the middle of all this coronavirus crap, I think something good will come out of it.
The earth certainly returns the way that we’ve been treating it. I’ve been an environmentalist for a long time. You can see some of the stuff that’s happening.
Certainly the bush fires in Australia; it was so obvious it was going to happen. I think there’s going to be quite a bit of anger coming around for the way that the politicians in the world have let us down. There’s no doubt they’ve let us down.
And after all this, I don’t know when this will come out, but we talk about whether the Coronavirus had jumped from a bat or a snake to a human. Why haven’t the Chinese locked down these wet markets? They’re still going and they’re still selling bats.
It’s either that or they manufactured something and decided to try and bring the Western world down. Whatever it happens to be, there’s something seriously wrong. The world has had enough of this, and we’ve got to start thinking a bit more kind to other human beings and to the earth.
God will lead the way. I know that sounds very religious and I’m not very religious, but I’m trying to get a sense of what’s important to me and go with my intuition and it’s really tough. It’s really tricky, but your brain just starts trying to take over and it’s just trying to separate the ego and your intuition. And it’s not that easy.
I go with my intuition and it’s really tough. Your brain starts to take over and it’s just trying to separate the ego and your intuition.
Christian: How do you do that?
Pat: Well, it’s practice. I said I’m doing my psychology course. I’m doing my course in miracles. I like to read a lot of stuff about self-help books and people often read books. I like Rock & Roll, though it’s ironic and it’s funny.
I like Rock & Roll books because I a lot of wild stuff that the Rock & Roll legends did. That’s the other side of me that thinks that it’s crazy and if these guys really do these things.
But the other side is that there’s self-help. That’s pretty much more all I try and do is become a better human being and a better kind of person and a more forgiving person to myself because I was pretty harsh on myself for a long time. I was pretty tough and pretty unforgiving towards myself.
- Also check out the interview ‘You can always do more than you think you can.’ with 4-time Olympic Champion Inge de Bruijn, who outlines that she was very hard and unforgiving to herself during her career.
So I think I’ve got a lot better with that. But it’s practice. You can rewire the brain. It’s just old patterns. People lose arms and legs and half their brains in accidents and they can still function perfectly well.
All I try and do is become a better human being and a better kind of person.
So the plasticity of the brain and the mind is phenomenal that you just have to get into good habits of well-being and positive thinking and think a different way. The most important thing is awareness.
I’ve been very aware of some of my habits and the things that I was doing wrong. I’ve been trying to change them and it’s worked. It’s not easy, but it’s one of the best things I could possibly do and it all starts with awareness.
Often it’s your wife or your kids that point it out to you that you are doing certain things. But they’ve pointed out to me quite a few times. They may say that I’m angry all the time. I usually get upset and say that I am not angry.
Well, maybe I am angry. And that was actually one of the first things my father said to me when my coach suggested a Sports Psychologist back in 1985. He asked if I wanted to work with a Sports Psychologist. I didn’t even know what that meant.
I thought he meant to go to a psychiatric ward and get put in a padded cell and a straight jacket or at least a straight walk around like this for a month and get electric shocks. I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He told me that I got very angry. I literally stormed, screamed, yelled, and swore at my dad and coach and I stormed out of the room. After a while, I thought about it and figured that they might have a point. I’ve was acting like an idiot.
My father and my coach suggested working with a Sports Psychologist because I got very angry. I literally stormed out of the room, screamed, yelled, and swore at my dad and coach. After a while, I thought about it and figured that they might have a point.
So, that’s one of the challenges for me. That’s my life. To hear criticism and to be able to stop and ask me what’s this about without reacting.
How to overcome setbacks
Christian: How do you overcome setbacks?
Pat: If I’ve learned anything in this life, it is that there is something positive to come out of everything. And if I look back at my life, and hopefully, I’ve still got another good 20 years or more, every one of my setbacks has turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
If I’ve learned anything in this life, it is that there is something positive to come out of everything. Every one of my setbacks has turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
At the time it was horrific. There were things like injuries, divorce, separation, financial issues with divorce, and illness. But when I look back at it now, it’s easy to look back and see, but it’s actually that my growth has come from that.
The setbacks and some form of pressure and stress is important to push you on and motivate you. Sure you sit there and you mope and you cry and you drink a few beers and then you drink a few more beers. But then you wake up the next day and you know it didn’t help. You actually feel worse.
You learn from mistakes, but having these injuries, I’ve had to go back and learn about my tennis and learn about my body in physiotherapy. I’ve had to come back and do all sorts of stuff and so many of these setbacks, in the long run, have actually been fantastic.
As tennis players and as athletes, particularly tennis players, we have setbacks all the time. We have setbacks at every point almost. If we ever have three points in a row, we’re lucky. So every second point or every other point is a setback.
You lose this game, you lose a set, you lose a match or you lose a tournament. We’ve got to bounce back. Tennis players are very resilient. If you’re not, then you’re going to be out and so you have to forget about stuff and move on.
As tennis players, we have setbacks all the time. We have setbacks at every point almost. We’ve got to bounce back. Tennis players are very resilient. If you’re not, then you’re going to be out.
Men are pretty good at that in general. They will just say they are going to pick something and move on. They are determined. I’m not saying women aren’t, but I think it is so particularly for male tennis players and I think that’s why we’re seeing tennis so phenomenal.
There are five sets of just ruthless tennis because fighters are reset, reset, reset, reset all the time and move on. I get upset, but you got to move on. You got to reset. You don’t have any other options. You just got to keep moving forward.
The 1 point that sparked his motivation and determination to become successful
Christian: I saw that in an interview that you gave that in the US Open semifinal in 1984. You were one point away from making it to the final and it took you a long time to recover from that. But you said that made you the player you ultimately became.
Pat: Yes, that’s right. I lost to Lendl 7-6 in the fifth set. I had a match point and I hit a very good volley. When I hit the volley, I thought I had won the point and Ivan Lendl chased it down and hit a perfect lob over my head.
Check out Pat Cash’s match point at minute 04:27
He served the match point and then I served and ace the next point which got called a fault. It was right on the line which would have given me a second match point.
Anyway, I lost the match, and then from six months after that, it was like something out of a movie. You know you’re at the movies or the TV series and the guy’s in bed and he just keeps thinking that it never happened.
But, it did happen. It happened all the time. I used to wake up and say that I blew it and it was my only chance. And you just don’t know. He’s a young player.
You don’t know if you’re going to get another chance and for a long time until I got injured that next year, I thought that was it. That was the end of my career. It was a highlight of my career. I had a match point and I blew it to get to the US Opens final.
I thought it was my only chance and I blew it. As a young player, you don’t know if you’re going to get another chance. I thought that was it. That was the end of my career.
But it gave me so much determination to beat him and to just be a better player. But it also gave me the confidence to know that I just about beat the number one player in the world at the age of nineteen. But it did really fire me up to get going.
- Also check out the interview ‘If you give everything you have, you can win or lose, without regret.’ with ATP World Champion Alex Corretja, who had a match point against the number 1 player in the world, and ended up losing. But this loss also gave him the confidence to be a really good player.
So after that, there was one horror after the other, I had a back injury, and my back was gone. I didn’t know if I was going to come back. Then I got a child on the way, it was really shocking because I was only twenty years. And I just kept thinking that I lost that match and I blew it.
There were setbacks all the time. But then I said that I could just sit there and mope or I could get off my ass and do something. So, I got off my ass and I’ve worked my butt off. I had the right people behind me.
There were setbacks all the time. But then I said that I could just sit there and mope or I could get off my ass and do something. So, I got off my ass and I’ve worked my butt off. I decided that I was going to go out and do it and be the best that I could possibly be.
I had a Sports Psychologist, I got Ann Quinn and I got my coach. So I decided that I was going to go out and do it and be the best that I could possibly be. And that’s still the rule that I followed to this day.
How he had struggled with mental health issues
Christian: The next question is a bit of a difficult one. Part of what I’m doing this series here with high-performers is also to show, quote, unquote, to normal people that high-performers face similar challenges as normal people.
You were the Australian next big thing, you had it all and people thought you were living the dream. In your book, your biography, you bravely talked about mental health issues. How did you recognize something is wrong?
Pat: Well, I wanted to kill myself. That would probably be it. I was very depressed. But as I said, here I was, I had everything. I lost this match, I had a child on the way, which involved a lot of stress and I had injuries.
Then I had success, but I wasn’t really happy. In actual fact, one of the most miserable parts, personally in my life, was when I won Wimbledon.
I had success, but I wasn’t really happy. In actual fact, one of the most miserable parts, personally in my life, was when I won Wimbledon.
At home was so stressful with a young baby; my girlfriend was incredibly stressed. I had my Coach and my Sports Psychologist at my house at the same time. So she said I was to make my own food, which added more stress to everything and it was horrific. I actually learned to switch my mind off completely and get out of the house and then just focus on tennis.
I learned to do that as part of my escape. But when that disappears and you’re injured, there were certain things that I hadn’t managed very well and hadn’t dealt with, and that caused very bad depression.
Coming back from one of my injuries, I can’t remember which one now, but I was sitting, playing a Legend’s Tournament because I couldn’t get into the real tournaments. I kept thinking that I was done. I was between 30 and 32, and I just thought that I should play some of the Legend’s Tournament?
I didn’t want to play Legend’s Tournament. I want to play the Tour. Well, I come and play there anyway. I played the Legend’s, it was halfway through and I said I didn’t want to be there. I just left. I just left the tournament.
So because I left the tournament, they banned from the tour. I didn’t really care. And then I realized that I don’t have an income anymore. That was when I realized that my life’s going to change. I was not very happy and I had to go deal with it.
So I actually went and got some counseling. I got some marriage counseling and I went into a rehab place in a very famous one in Arizona in the US. It had all sorts of people there. And that was really fantastic, actually.
I remember getting out of there on New Year’s 2000, but I was in there for a few weeks over Christmas time. I met all people with all sorts of really big problems. I didn’t really have any problems, but some of the things were horrific that happens to these people and the issues that they had.
I actually felt quite normal after that, but somebody had given me a game plan. They said if I followed the plan, I would be okay. Some of it was going to meetings and counseling and all that sort of stuff. So I followed that.
Somebody gave me some advice. I kept an open mind about it and asked for help. It’s very hard to ask for help. I didn’t think I needed to ask for help, but that’s one of the toughest things to do is really to ask for help. And that was a good thing I did. It was provided to me.
It’s very hard to ask for help, it’s one of the toughest things to do is really to ask for help.
So again, I got a bit of a game plan. Some people are way smarter than me. They suggested that I follow a plan and it’s something that I’ll continue to follow even today. I get up and I do my meditation. That’s my messy part of that.
His role model
Christian: Who’s your role model and why?
Pat: I always said that my tennis heroes were Jimmy Connors, McEnroe, and Borg, all for different reasons. The way they played tennis and their life. I’ve always had great admiration for people who are servants. They are servants to the community or people, like Mother Theresa and Gandhi, these types of people.
I have a great fascination and, no more so than Jesus. As I said, I’m not really religious, but I just have a lot of respect for these sorts of people. I think the older you get, the more you want to give back.
You’re doing that with your podcast. I believe that’s something that you want to do, and I think it’s really very rewarding. So I have great admiration for people doing a lot for no reward. How they do that, I don’t know.
I’ve always had great admiration for people who are servants, for people doing a lot for no reward.
Whether that’s people who work at old people’s homes and donate their time and then things like that. They’re fantastic and then never get any thank you, or hardly get any thanks. They’re the most amazing people.
People throw this term around a lot. They call me a hero. But I tell them I’m not a hero. I’m just a tennis player. Federer is a hero Nadal, yes, he’s a hero because they’ve got skills that people don’t see and it’s an amazing skill that everybody wants to watch.
They call me a hero. But I tell them I’m not a hero. I’m just a tennis player.
The real heroes are the single mothers of three who they’re putting their kids through school and getting up and somehow putting food on the table. They’re the real heroes. That’s just absolutely brilliant for people to do that.
And what thanks do they get? They don’t get any. They just get a kid screaming at the end of the day that they don’t want to go to bed. Then they got a kid screaming when they wake up in the morning and don’t want to go to school.
Well, what thanks do they get? They got a husband who doesn’t want to give them any money. Yes, it just goes on. What thanks do they ever get? They don’t. They forge on and that’s been great strength, but again, that is giving.
It’s amazing what reward you can get from actually giving. And it doesn’t always come. I have a lot of charities. I like doing that, but the charities that I’ve founded or I’m involved in, they call me up and ask if I can come and do something.
Sometimes I’ll just say, no. I just don’t have the energy. And then the next year, I’ll do 10 things. Sometimes it’s a drag, but you force yourself.
As humans, we really got to think of what is sacrifice. We’re not supposed to sacrifice. I believe we’re not supposed to really sacrifice, even though they’ve already pointed to Jesus on the cross or whoever it was sacrificed for us.
That’s just all a whole mixed up thing that’s going on in our psyche. God doesn’t want us to sacrifice. But there are certain things you have to do. If you got a baby, you got to clean it. You got to do these things, but you kind of enjoy that.
I believe we’re not supposed to really sacrifice, God doesn’t want us to sacrifice.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed changing any of my four kids’ nappies, but I did it and the time I spent with them, I really enjoyed it.
The Wimbledon quarterfinal in 1988 where he tumbled over the net
Christian: There’s one question I wanted to ask you. I don’t know – I didn’t know any better place to put it. I always enjoyed the way you play tennis. I always supported you, whoever you played. There was one match, I supported your opponent. The Wimbledon quarterfinal in 1988.
Pat: Oh, Boris.
Christian: There was a moment you ran for a drop shot, you tumbled over the net, then Boris thought it’s funny to tumble over the net as well. From your reaction, it seemed like you didn’t think it’s funny.
Pat: No, I did not think that was very funny. Yes, I was a defending Wimbledon Champion then, and that was an honor to be a defending champion, but I was certainly not in great form then. And I managed to get through to the quarter-final, somehow struggling along.
But I didn’t really feel like I had any chance to beat Boris if he was playing the way he was. I get on well with Boris now. I like him. It was always my belief that you’re always friendly to your opponent.
It was always my belief that you’re always friendly to your opponent.
I am upset as far as a few things that Boris and Lendl said about me personally. I was a young father and I had no idea about being a father or anything, but they were very critical about my game and how I’m dragging my family around the world and stuff like that. That was really not very nice.
I was respectful to Boris, and I didn’t really appreciate him saying that. And so here it was at Wimbledon quarter-final and just hanging on. He was beating me and everything seemed to be going wrong and he had a ball that just dribbled off the end of his racket at the net.
I chased in and set to hit the ball and then tried not to go into the net. And eventually, I couldn’t and I was holding this and just balancing and eventually fell into the net and fell over the net. I wondered what else could go wrong?
I wondered what else could go wrong?
Then Boris thought it was funny to jump over the net and make fun of me. As I said, I didn’t think it was very funny. He was just making fun. He’s winning. It’s always easy to make fun of somebody when you’re winning.
And so in my typical Australian language, I just told him that as a matter of fact, that I didn’t think he was very funny and he should go stick something somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine.
The best advice he has received
Christian: What’s the best advice you received and who gave it to you?
Pat: There’s so much good advice out there. You’ve got to sort of find your own way. Initially one of the things my father told me when I was going through that really tough period. And I believe it’s very true and I didn’t realize it, I think it’s from Friedrich Nietzsche “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”.
It was my father who used to say the steel is tempered in the fire and the steel goes in the fire and it comes out stronger. So, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger and I didn’t really quite understand that. But he was dead right.
Steel is tempered in the fire.
So that was one of the first, really big, good bits of advice that I understood to say, “just hang in there. You’ll come out the other end pretty strong.” The other one I tattooed on my arm, I don’t know if you can see that here.
The meaning of the tattoo on his arm
Christian: I have it here as a note. That would have been my next question.
Pat: Yes. ‘This too shall pass’. But there’s a reason why I’ve got that rose. It’s a Dali rose – Salvador Dali. It’s a nice tattoo, but “this too shall pass” means that the bad will pass, but the good will pass.
So smell the roses and that’s what the rose is for; just to smell roses. My father died and a good friend of mine died in a short period of time together and I realized that I really miss them. And, sometimes I come in, I’m running around and I come back home and running off to do this and do that and sometimes it’s nice to sit down and stop and smell the roses.
I’ve made that a habit of mine to whenever I get walking down the road or going just to go for a run and if I still see a rosebush, I would stop and smell the rose bush and then go continue onto my run. And funny enough, here in the house, they’ve got beautiful roses down there.
I’ve made that a habit of mine to whenever I see a rosebush, I would stop and smell the rosebush.
I was just smelling them this morning. So it reminds me of my father and it reminds me of my friend. It reminds me just slow down for a second. Life’s okay.
Christian: That’s interesting, I have actually interviewed fellow Aussie Sam Willoughby, I’m not sure whether you know who that is. He’s a big BMX Supercross rider, silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympics. He had an accident and he’s paralyzed now. He actually said to smell the rose a bit more is one of the best advice he’s received.
- Check out the interview ‘Smell the roses a bit more.’ with Silver medalist Sam Willoughby
When did you get that tattoo?
Pat: I’m confused about the year, but it was just after my father died. So it was 10 to 12 years ago. It was an interesting period in my life. When you retire as a sportsperson and you’re playing Legend’s and you’re at the end of your career, it’s quite interesting because you don’t know where the next part of the career is.
When you retire as a sportsperson, it’s quite interesting because you don’t know where the next part of the career is.
Actually, I know when I got the tattoo. I got it after I was working with Matt Philippoussis. So I started getting into coaching and really enjoying that.
It was an interesting time because coaching is a different skill set, there’s no doubt about it. You can be a good player, but you might not be able to communicate. So that was something I had to learn to do is communicate as well.
A typical training day in the life of a Wimbledon champion
Christian: Back in the days, how did a typical training day look like?
Pat: It would vary depending on where you were in the tournament, or how far out of the tournament you were. I had Ann to make a program for me, but typically I would start off, in a morning warm-up.
When I look back at the warm-ups that I used to do, that would be a full workout for me now. We would warm up for good 40 minutes, including sprints and agility, rolling balls, doing ladders, all sorts of stuff, but we would literally do sprint sessions.
When I look back at the warm-ups that I used to do, that would be a full workout for me now.
Sometimes we’d actually go into the gym and do big leg presses. Sometime before matches, we did that as well. That was some of the training that Ben Johnson and Linford Christie and some of these sprinters used to do.
They used to lift really heavyweights, not a lot of times, but just a few times to really fire up the muscles. Sometimes we used to go into the gym and push these massive weights, leg weights, and various things, and then go on the tennis court.
The tennis court session would be probably two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Sometimes we do the gym afterward. When I was first on the circuit, Ian Barkley, my coach, pulled me aside and told me to come and watch Jimmy Connors’ practice.
I remember exactly where it was. It was near here in California, actually where Indian Wells used to be. I remember I was playing for the first time that I got in the tournament there. Connors was on the practice court and my coach said that we’ve got some time, so we should watch Connor’s play.
So Connors walked on and he warmed up for 10 minutes. Then he just went absolutely flat out. I swear to God that if that practice court could have been Center Court Roland Garros, the US Open, or Wimbledon, he went so hard.
He chased every single ball. Every shot was just like the most important shot he ever had. At the change of hands, he would have a timing for 1 minute.
So he sat down and he was playing somebody. He would sledge them. He’d give him a hard time. He’d get in their face and give a bad line call, calling them a freaking cheat.
We’re sitting there saying that this is a practice match with other players, yet he’d be swearing. It was unbelievable. I was amazed. I thought that this guy was insane because it was just practice. But no, that’s what he did.
I thought that this guy was insane because it was just practice.
He went out and then afterward, he’d shake hands thank them. He would then ask if they would meet at the same time the next day. The other guy would tell him that they’re not practicing with him. They were upset that he swore at them and accused them of cheating.
Connors would then say that it was all right. So, even in training, he was unbelievable. So my practice sessions, when I train two hours, you’d walk up the court and you’d be absolutely dead. Then it would be non-stop, such as two on ones, really hard work practice matches and you’d do it again in the afternoon.
So there was no time to mess around. There’s no time to sit and chit chat. Anybody can play for four hours. Half the time you’re not running and you’re talking and you’re changing ends with five minutes.
What’s the point? That’s my point whatsoever. So almost everything would be high intensity, except for massage near the end of the day.
The Lightning Round
Christian: We’re coming to the end of the interview. I would like to do something which some people call a lightning round. I ask a question and you give a quick answer.
Pat: Oh, okay.
Does he prefer Kooyong Stadium or Melbourne Park
Christian: What would be your choice or your preference, Kooyong Stadium, or Melbourne Park?
Pat: Kooyong stadium. Because I was spending quite a lot of time there.
The best player to never win Wimbledon
Christian: Who is the best player to never win Wimbledon?
Pat: The best player not to win Wimbledon? Nastase didn’t win, did he? I think he lost in the final twice.
The best serve and volley player ever
Christian: Who is the best serve and volley player ever?
Pat: There’s a bunch of them. I’ll say Sampras, Becker, McEnroe, and Rafter. Henman is right up there too. So maybe Henman.
Who was the better volley player, Stefan Edberg or Pat Cash
Christian: The discussion we had as kids best volleys in the biz, Edberg or Cash?
Pat: I’d give it to Stefan. I’ll give a nod to Stefan. I think he was actually a better volleyer than me.
Do you need to change the grip on the forehand and backhand volley
Christian: Do you change the grip on the forehand and backhand volley?
Pat: Sometimes, yes, but not very often. No, not for standard stuff. For the really wide stuff or the really large stuff, I’ll open it up a little bit or close it for a sort of drive volley.
So I have probably about six or seven grips that I use throughout a tennis match. There are interesting serves as well. I’ll use a lot of different grips on the serve.
If he could travel back in time to the Australian Open final ’88 to the 5th set at 6:6, where he was a breakpoint down and his backhand volley was called out. With today’s technology, would he challenge the line call
Christian: If you could travel back in time 32 years, Aussie Open final 1988, fifth set, six all, breakpoint down with today’s technology. Would you challenge the call on the backhand volley?
Pat: Yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up. Yes, that’s right. That’s a good thing. I was 15-40 down. Then he hit a backhand volley right through the line. It was definitely half in, half out, maybe even more than half in and the umpire called it out.
I would have won that point on a Hawkeye challenge. And Mats [Wilander] says it too. He still had a breakpoint, so maybe he would have gotten the next breakpoint, but I certainly would’ve still been alive.
Yes, that was a heart breaker, but I knew the umpire was not in those right. And we know, she was not going to change that call at sixth all in a fifth set.
His interview nomination
Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?
Pat: I’ll tell you what I’d like. You should interview Jimmy Connors. He’s great, but I don’t know if you could get to him though. He’s not that easy to get to, but he’s a fantastic interview. He’s a bit of a hero of mine.
I don’t know if you’d get through to McEnroe, but there’s a lot of really good athletes. One of my heroes growing up was Edwin Moses, the 400-meter hurdler. I think he lost once in his whole career or something stupid like that.
He was a hero of mine because we used to have the same sponsor, Diadora. So I used to follow him all the time, but that’d be interesting because his career went for forever and he never got beaten.
So there’s a challenge for you. I have no idea how to get hold of him. If I think of somebody who might come through my phone book, I’ll send it to you.
Christian: That would be great. Cool.
Pat: Do you know a guy, Bear Grylls? Bear Grylls, the guy who goes into the jungle and eats food and eats lizards and all that sort of stuff to stay alive. You never heard of Bear Grylls? He’s very famous.
He’s an ex-Royal Marine and now he does all these TV shows. He goes in and tells people how to survive on the land by eating things. And he’s mad on tennis. He loves his tennis and loves his sport, but he’s also had a crazy career because he’d been in the Marines and now he’s very famous.
If you look up Bear Grylls then you’ll see how much TV stuff he’s done. Anyway, I’ve got his number. He’s a fantastic guy to interview. He’s really fun.
He’s super good at the touch tennis, which is mini tennis, he played me and he killed me. I had no chance to beat him. He’s really good.
Christian: I guess touch tennis is a bit of a different skill in a way.
His involvement in a philanthropic project where he wants to raise awareness for the situation of the indigenous Australians
Christian: I listened to the podcast you were on at the Howie Games and you mentioned you want to raise awareness for the situation of the indigenous Australians and you are doing a philanthropic project at this moment. Tell us more about that.
Pat: Yes, I’m involved with the Australian indigenous community. Many Australian indigenous people are some of the poorest people in Australia. They’ve had a really tough time.
They’ve been treated very badly by the Australian government. It’s one of Australia’s ugly, dirty secrets how badly the indigenous people are supported and the charity that we have supports the actual community.
Many Australian indigenous people are some of the poorest people in Australia, and the charity that we have supports the actual community.
So in Australia, the indigenous community has between 200 and 300 different languages. At the moment, a lot of them are lumped together, depending on which part of Australia. This is in Central Australia.
It’s incredibly ridiculously hot at 45-50 degrees Celsius; summertime it is freezing cold in the desert and freezing cold in the wintertime. There are three or four different communities that are being forced to come and live together and the languages are so different.
The traditions are so very different and they’re dying out. Their traditions they know how to live on the land and they know bush medicine and that their languages all disappeared. Aboriginals don’t write the language. They don’t write it down.
All the old people have got diabetes and they’re getting old and they’re dying and it’s quite tragic to think that they’ll lose their culture. So we support one of these communities, one of which is called Children’s Grounds https://childrensground.org.au/ .
So we get the children that can work out on the ground with the adults and learn the language, which is to learn English, of course, as well, which is the second language. In many ways, they’re put all put together in a suburb and be equipped with languages like African to German, to Chinese and they’re all put together.
The white man came and said that they’re black. You go and just live together. Can you imagine putting the people together? Literally, the next-door neighbor is a guy who speaks a completely different language.
There are so many different and big problems. There’s a fantastic movie out that will explain it. It’s got a lot of awards, and it’s called “In My Blood, It Runs”, and I recommend anybody who’s interested in what’s going on in Australia or doesn’t quite understand, as I’m still learning myself about the indigenous communities around the world.
We’re talking about the same everywhere. In Alaska and Norway, there are a lot of indigenous people. Also, Polynesians throughout Asia have a lot of similar problems. “In My Blood, It Runs”, is about a young boy. They follow him for about three years and see the problems.
This kid is one of the very lucky ones. So it’s an award-winning movie that’s out and you just keep an eye out for it. You might be able to get it on Netflix or something or YouTube, I don’t know, soon enough. It’s the only kind of just come out. So maybe quite a few months.
Christian: I wasn’t aware of that situation until I heard you talking about it. And then I looked into it.
Pat: It’s really horrific.
Christian: Excuse my ignorance, but I was always under the impression the story of Cathy Freeman around the 2000 Olympics was a step into the direction of reconciliation.
Pat: No, I didn’t know either. I feel very ignorant as well. And that’s why I tried to help. In actual fact, one of the projects that we did to support the community, the lady that’s called the Aranda people. That’s the name of the community.
It’s an Aboriginal community and she owns the land there at Alice Springs. Alice Springs is a small, capital city. It’s small in this town community of 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 people in the middle of Australia, and she lives on a bit of land in a caravan.
It’s got broken windows and if I showed you a photo, you wouldn’t believe it. There are sheds that would look not as good as what you would see in your backyard in Holland or Germany, that would hold your lawnmower and your shovel or your tools. It kind of looked like that.
And that’s where they live in freezing cold weather. They have no water and no electricity, and it’s their land. The white man wanted them off the land so they could put, I think solar power or do whatever they want to do, like build a hotel.
She said that she was not leaving as it was her land. She’s fought for 40 years and she finally got water now. Now, that is against all human rights not to provide water, but this is not one person.
This is common around Australia, but they do not have water. They do not have electricity; a common, basic human right. The Australian government has been breaching human rights laws for decades and it’s still going on.
But finally, we’ve got an official approval that you can have a house she can build a house and she can have water. Can you believe that? Forty years? And this is her land.
Those people have had that land for 50,000 years. Fifty thousand years! The white man comes on and tells them that it’s not their land anymore. It’s absolutely insane.
But this is what happens in Australia. I don’t see any other way of calling it other than racism, but not everybody, of course, but there is a big strain of racism through a lot of Australian politics.
What’s going on in the life of Pat Cash at this moment in time
Christian: What else is going on in Pat Cash life at this moment in time?
Pat: Some of the interesting things for me is that I’m doing this Psychology program and I decided to go and teach it online.
We’ll go with the founder and the teacher and I’d love to tell you about it at some stage later. It’s quite broad, but we’re going to simplify it a little bit for athletes. So, certain principles that we will have that will be very good for athletes.
So I’m looking to get that up and going, in the next six months or so. Hopefully, we’re not still locked up in six months’ time. I hope not. That’d be terrible. But I’ll let you know and we’ll see.
I’m hoping to bring that to the ATP as well. They realized that they need it. One of the issues with tennis that I’ve always found is that as a junior or a National Association, you build these kids up to say, you’re going to be the next big thing.
Then when they don’t make it, then what do they do? They’re just left. They’re thrown off. So you tell them sorry that they didn’t make the squad that year and you tell them to go and just good luck. These are 16-year-old boys or girls.
I’ve always found that as a National Association, you build these kids up to say, you’re going to be the next big thing. Then when they don’t make it, then what do they do?
You’ve broken their heart and they’ve maybe quit school. I don’t know, whatever could happen. Maybe they’ve been injured. There’s no duty of care from many of these associations. I wouldn’t say all of them, but certainly, the ones that I’ve been aware of.
There’s no duty of care of mental well-being care for any of these young people and there should be. And I’m worried that one day we will see a kid, get depressed and drive his car off the bridge or something.
Then, that is when we say that it is terrible. So what do you expect? You build these kids up and you just throw them away. And that’s the tough thing about sport. if you’re not at the top, you’re sometimes discarded.
I’m looking to bring some form of simple, basic principles of Psychology 101 in this sort of format. The ATP, I know, has started to do something about it. I’ll talk to them about it and tell them that we’re actually doing this.
We realize that we haven’t done enough and that every retiring player and every young player coming on the tour should know these things. And I get some form of awareness. As I talked about, awareness is such a massive thing.
I’m looking to bring some form of simple, basic principles of Psychology and every young player coming on the tour should know these things.
In a lot of it is history, of course. This is what our parents had told us and what their parents had told them and where they’ve come from. So it’s not that simple, but awareness will go a long way.
Where can you find Pat Cash
Christian: Where can people find you?
Pat: I’ve got a website, it’s Patcash.net. I’ve also got some tennis tips and fitness tips and various things like that. But there are also quite a few on YouTube. I was going to say, I’ve got to channel. My son was dealing with it. I’m guessing it’s Pat Cash somewhere.
Christian: It is. I checked it out. It is Pat Cash
Pat: Okay, there you go because I did a lot of mini-coaching tips that were about three minutes. These were little tips on some of the principles that I’ve found working in teaching. So there are various fun things like that around.
Yes, hopefully, I should be getting under that right now, shouldn’t I? I really know I’ve got a bit of extra time to fix up my website, but there’ll be some good info on there.
The real Pat Cash on Twitter and Instagram. So I’ll post stuff on there as well.
Pat Cash’s social profiles
Christian: Really cool. Pat, thanks a lot for your time. That was awesome.
Pat: Thanks, Christian. My pleasure. Great to talk to you and we’ll be in touch.