A certain Wimbledon champion is back in the city.
Pat Cash, who won the 1987 men’s singles title at the All England Club, is in Chennai for the WTA250 event where his ward, Qiang Wang of China, is the sixth seed.
The Australian first visited the State capital back in 1997 to participate in the ATP event. “It’s nice to come back here. It must have been ‘97 when I played (at Chennai Open). It was my last year or last few months anyway. Another thing I remember about it was the heat. The heat was absolutely killer, and they used to put us in the middle of the day then. I was coming back from injury and wasn’t 100 per cent fit. It almost killed me,” said Cash during a media interaction.
Wang faces 2009 Wimbledon semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the first round on Monday.
The event has some top players such as Alison Riske-Amritraj, Tatjana Maria and Varvara Gracheva in the main draw. However, when asked who he sees as the title favourite, the 57-year-old said, “I don’t think there’s any favourite, to be honest. We’ve seen that on the women’s tour that anybody can win a tournament. Literally every, every person that’s in the tournament can win. Regularly, through the last couple of years of 2-3 years of Grand Slams, it’s almost impossible to pick (a favourite) and that’s what makes it exciting.
“Obviously, you expect the higher seeds to do well, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that they’re going to do well. It’s going to be very interesting, and the conditions can be tricky. It could be anybody. I wouldn’t be surprised if anybody wins this tournament, but hopefully, it’s my player.”
Talking about Wang, Cash feels there is room for improvement in the game of the world number 102. He said, “You can’t be a top player unless you have some power. You have to develop that. There are various ways to do that, and you have to work it out. Whether it’s technically or physically, you have to develop the power. That’s one of the aspects I’m working on with Qiang, and she’s doing very well. If you look at her 18 months ago and now, you’ll see the massive difference in the amount of power that she has on the ball. But she’s not a big girl, so she has to develop that.”
However, Cash, who has also coached players such as Greg Rusedski, Mark Philippoussis and Coco Vandeweghe, also praised Wang. He said, “Of all the players I’ve coached and faced fantastic players, Q is the fastest learner I’ve ever come across. To me, that’s very exciting. She is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life too. I understand the difficulties for the Chinese players. They can’t go home for a whole year. That’s the challenge. We’ve been on the road since November 20th. I’ve had one week off since November 20th, and you know, this is my last week, so I’m going to enjoy my time in Chennai.”
READ: WTA suspends tournaments in China over Peng Shuai controversy
Cash plans to see the Church of Saint Thomas and go around the beach. The food though hasn’t been too welcoming for the former Wimbledon champion. “Your food is very spicy here. I coach a Chinese player who loves spicy food, and she said, ‘It’s too spicy for me.’ So, you can imagine what a white guy like me is thinking, “ joked Cash.