With his larrikin persona and classically beautiful serve-and-volley game, Pat Cash was one of Australia’s favourite sportsmen.
The trademark chequered headband and flowing locks of Pat Cash were a familiar sight to fans worldwide, and footage of him clambering into the crowd after his Wimbledon triumph in 1987 are among the sport’s most indelible.
Other highlights of his career included Davis Cup triumphs in 1983 and 1986, two Australian Open finals and an all-time classic US Open semi-final against Ivan Lendl in 1984.
Since leaving the tour, Cash has played in a range of legends tournaments, coached a number of elite players and worked as an expert commentator for the BBC.
The tennis legend has also become an advocate for a new supplement, drinkable ketones, which he believes will be the next big thing in health and fitness.
As the 2018 French Open swings into action, we caught up with Cash to get his thoughts on the tournament, the prospects of the fast-rising player he coaches (Womens’ 15th seed, CoCo Vandeweghe), and more.
How does the French Open rank in terms of your favourite tournaments?
It’s probably my favourite, actually. I love the Australian Open, obviously, the facilities for tennis there are great. But I love to come back here (to France) and play doubles.
It’s on clay, which is a surface I find very tricky to play on, especially against the clay court specialists.
I like the romance of it – you’re in the middle of Paris. The French are incredibly knowledgeable tennis fans; they’ve probably seen more tennis than any other grand slam fans. They give you a really hard time if you’re not performing, but it’s a double-edged sword as they will also give you great support when you play well. They expect to get their money’s worth when they see a match.
— Ash Marshall (@AMarshallSport) November 9, 2017
How do you see the draw for CoCo Vandeweghe? Is it fair to say the womens’ draw is very open this year?
Well, if she plays well, she is going to be okay. The womens’ draw is ridiculously open. CoCo is an outside chance, but it could be any one of 30 players that wins. That is the crazy thing about the womens’ circuit at the moment. Last year we saw someone (shock winner Jelena Ostapenko) really come out of the blue and that could happen again this year.
You have Serena (Williams), who is unseeded this year. I think it would be a tough ask for her, she hasn’t played much tennis lately. Maria Sharapova is playing very good tennis. So, it’s a lot more open than the mens’ side, where ‘Rafa’ (Rafael Nadal) is the clear favourite.
Do you see Nadal as beatable?
Well, anyone is beatable, but it is hard enough to beat him over three sets, let alone five and on clay. Beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open is probably one of the hardest things to do in world sport. It is almost impossible.
Beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open is probably one of the hardest things to do in world sport. It is almost impossible — Pat Cash
There are only two or three players that could possibly beat him. Dominic Thiem could get hot and he has beaten him a couple of times on the clay. Or maybe Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev could do it, I think he is a heck of a player. So, I don’t see ‘Rafa’ losing, but I suppose anything could happen.
Can Rafael Nadal win an ELEVENTH French Open title?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 24, 2018
Who is an ‘under the radar’ player we should look out for in the tournament?
One of the most exciting players for me is (mens’ 24th seed) Denis Shapovalov, from Canada. I’m not sure how he will go here, but he’s a left-hander, really flashy and very entertaining to watch.
I think the most likely player to break through is Dominic Thiem. I think he will break through at some stage. He got to the semi-final here last year and I think he would expect to go at least that far this year. I like (16th-seeded Brit) Kyle Edmund a lot too. I think he has a chance to win here too, he’s a danger.
How did you get interested in ketones?
A couple of years ago, I was looking for something to help my aches and pains, basically. I heard about the ketogenic diet, did a lot of research on it and then gave it a try. It really did help with my energy levels, joint pain and focus. I lost quite a bit of weight on it. But it’s a very, very tricky diet to be on. It’s almost impossible to sustain, so I sort of fell off it.
About a year ago, I heard about ketone supplements and was very excited about that. It gives you the ketones without having to go through the crazy diet. It’s not as good as the diet, but it still gives you the health benefits. I’ve been using it a lot, training with it a lot, and I’ve had very, very good results.
These supplements are going to be absolutely massive, it won’t be long before everyone is doing it. It is going to be like protein shakes, everyone is going to be taking them.
Do you think it would be helpful for executives who have a high-stress, busy lifestyle?
Yes, I think it’s not just for athletes, it’s for anybody. You can use it like a cup of coffee two or three times a day. It gives you a lot of focus and it supresses your hunger as well, so you end up not snacking; you’re not grabbing a Kit Kat all the time.
I also find you don’t drink alcohol, you just drink a lot of water. It’s really, really good if you are training or doing something like writing or studying.