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Cash's day has come
October 01 2002 - by Linda Pearce

"After all these years of antagonism, I'd dearly love to bury the hatchet with Tennis Australia and be respected for what I achieved in the game for my country," Pat Cash wrote in his autobiography, Uncovered, published this year. "One secret ambition of mine is to have a bust of my head unveiled in the garden at Melbourne Park."

In January, Cash's wish will be granted, through his induction as the 25th member of the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame. Thus, with the unveiling of a cherished bronze sculpture in his image, alongside those of such greats as Rod Laver and Margaret Court, as well as his old adversary John Newcombe, the feud may be over.

Without doubt, the relationship between one of Australia's best players of the past 20 years - famous as the 1987 Wimbledon champion and foundation of two Davis Cup victories - and the national governing body has been fraught at times.

Cash believed he was not given the wildcard support he deserved when his ranking plunged in the early '90s during an extended period sidelined with a snapped achilles tendon.

In later years, he complained of Davis Cup-related snubs, although that situation was not helped by his ongoing feud with Newcombe, then Australia's captain.

More recently, there were complaints that his father, Pat senior, had never been rewarded for his work in helping to set up junior development programs in 1979-80 by being invited to the Australian Open as a tournament guest.

Tennis memories, unlike those in football, were short, insisted Pat junior. "In tennis, once you're gone, you're gone," he said.

Tennis Australia has always emphasised that Hall of Fame entry is strictly performance-related and that Cash needed to serve the five-year retirement qualification to be eligible; that it was never a case of Cash being overlooked.

When the idea to create a local version of the International Tennis Hall of Fame germinated in 1992, the decision was made to first select those already recognised internationally.

Cash has not been, but he said recently that it had taken him some time to understand how severely his many injuries had limited his window of career opportunity.

In the time it was open, he peaked at No. 4 in the world, won the biggest tournament of all, and in 1987-88 lost two enthralling five-set Australian Open finals to Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander.

Cash may have collected just six singles titles in his career, but the athletic serve-and-volleyer was a member of the winning 1983 Davis Cup team, and the foundation on which the 1986 victory was built.

The first time Fraser's team beat Sweden, Cash was just 18, and yet he recovered from a first-day loss to Wilander to prevail in the fourth rubber and stretch Australia's advantage to an unassailable 3-1.

The second time, he opened day one with an epic defeat of Edberg, combined with John Fitzgerald in the doubles and then sealed the tie against Mikael Pernfors.

So, next week, Cash will be announced as the guest of honor at January's Hall of Fame induction function, and a bronzed Cash bust will join the others on permanent display at Melbourne Park.
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