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Saturday, November 11, 2000

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Pat Cash can still pack a punch

By Kalyan Ashok

BANGALORE, NOV. 10. An opinion shared by many on the senior Tour puts Pat Cash's once prodigious talent in the right perspective.``He's still good enough to play on the ATP men's Tour``.

There was no doubt about it, as one of the youngest `Senior' at 35 years, Pat Cash, whose meteoric rise was cut short by injuries, still carries the old fire in his strokes and though he is not acrobatic as he was a decade ago, Pat Cash can really move.

The great Aussie, last man from Down Under to win the Wimbledon in 1987, dished out a delectable fare to stop the battling `Bull from Pampas', Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-3 in the Gold Flake legends Tour tennis championship at the KSLTA Stadium here today.

At 48, Vilas is among the oldest pro in the Senior Tour, and he is easily one of the fittest. For well over a hour, nearly 70 minutes, the former Argentine ace, matched the skills of his younger rival in good measure. There were great groundstrokes and stunning volleys, which gave a glimpse of Vilas' glory days, when he was the undisputed champion in 1977, winning 149 out of 157 matches that season.

But on the Legends Tour here, Vilas is at the end of the road, having lost both his matches, to Cash and Vijay Amritraj. A clash on Saturday, between VIjay and Cash will decide the Group topper.

The tie certainly took many on nostalgic trip, wondering about what great game these two would have played at their prime. The way Cash served and charged at the net and Vilas belting down the line winners, were pure vintage stuff. Many would have wished for more, but then all good things should end, and this one did after exactly 68 minutes which left Cash, the conqueror. For record, he broke Vilas once in the first set (second game) and twice in the second set (third and ninth), served six aces as against Vilas' three and double faulted thrice while Vilas did twice, including one coming on the match point.

There was transient phases of the Borg brilliance in his 7-6 (13- 11), 6-4 win against his doubles partner Mansour Behrami who pulled one after another from his famed bag of tricks but to go with them, produced some astounding shots. ``You have to play 10 times harder if the man across the net is Borg.''

There was plenty of action. There was plenty of fun as the first set went to a tie-break in which Mansour led 4-1 and stayed with Borg for as long as he could. The second was equally well-fought with Behrami mixing antics with tough tennis. With two losses, to Henri Leconte and Borg, Behrami is now out of the fray, where Leconte-Borg clash will decide Group winner.

In the doubles, Vijay Amritraj and Henri Leconte defeated Guillermo Vilas and Ross Case 7-5, 6-4 and set up a title clash with Bjorn Borg and Mansour Behrami on Sunday.

Legends' clinic for kids

It will be a chance in life time for all those tennis loving kids. The eight stars who are here, will conduct a clinic for all children on Saturday. ``Wherever we go, we try and do it and it is our pleasure to pass on a tip to two to the kids here'', said Vijay Amritraj. The clinic gets underway from 10-30 a.m. onwards.

lThe results:

Singles: Pat Cash (Aus) bt Guillermo Vilas (Arg) 6-3, 6-3; Bjorn Borg (Swe) bt Mansour Behrami (Irn) 7-6 (13-11), 6-4.

Doubles: Vijay Amritraj (Ind) & Henri Leconte (Fre) bt Guillermo Vilas (Arg) & Ross Case (Aus) 7-5, 6- 4.

Schedule for Saturday: Singles: Pat Cash v Vijay Amritaj; Henri Leconte v Bjorn Borg. Doubles match for the third place: Pat Cash & Anand Amritraj v Guillermo Vilas & Ross Case.

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