LONDON, JULY 5 -- For 22 years, Patrick Cash has let his instincts dictate his actions. At times, those instincts have made his life difficult. Today, they made him a Wimbledon champion.

And, when he had punched one last volley past Ivan Lendl, extending the Wimbledon agony of the world's No. 1 tennis player for at least another year, Cash did what his instincts told him to do. He turned to Lendl, beaten in the Wimbledon final in straight sets for the second straight year, this time by 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 7-5, and briefly offered condolences.

Then, he began a mad dash that took him from Centre Court, through the lower stands, onto the roof of the TV booth at the corner of the court and into the friends box. There, his father, his sister, his coach, his psychologist, his uncle, his trainer, his girlfriend and their 13-month old son, and two of his close friends were waiting. He hugged each of them, whispering in the ear of Ian Barclay, his coach since boyhood, "We ------ showed them."

"When he was climbing through the stands," Barclay said, "all I could think was, 'My God, don't injure yourself again.' "

The only one who got hurt today was Lendl. When Boris Becker was knocked out of this tournament 10 days ago, Lendl believed this was his year to win Wimbledon. There was no Becker, no John McEnroe. Only an old Jimmy Connors, a young Stefan Edberg and the wild card, the former wild man, Cash.

But Cash is a different player than the kid who burst onto the scene full of bluster and brilliant tennis three years ago, making the semifinals here and at the U.S. Open. He has been through career-threatening injuries, a period when his ranking dropped out of sight and a lot of frustration.

Throughout this tournament, Cash stayed resolute and solemn. He lost one set in seven matches -- in the third round to Michiel Schapers -- and returned superbly for two weeks. Today, he was in command from the start, wavered briefly and then finished with a flourish, winning the last five games of the match.

Cash became the first Australian man to win Wimbledon since John Newcombe in 1971. A year ago, Cash reached the quarterfinals as a wild-card entry, the only way he could get in because his ranking had dropped to No. 413 after a year of back problems. Today, nothing seemed to trouble him.

"I could see from the beginning that he was returning really well," Lendl said. "I thought I played good, tight tennis for a set and a half, but he just played great. I never really made an impression on his serve the whole match. It's extremely disappointing because I worked really hard and now another year is gone."

One year ago, it was Becker who tormented Lendl, overpowering him in the final. Today, Cash was just too solid. He does not have Becker's strength, but he covers the net like a cat, has a little bit of McEnroe in his volleying touch and can return like a demon. He did all that in spite of a terrible case of the jitters.

"Last night was terrible," Cash said. "I went home from practice and . . . things began going round in my mind. I started thinking about how I would react when I won and all that. I said to myself, 'God, don't even think about that.'

"But I couldn't stop myself. I had a real case of butterflies. When I went out to practice today, my legs were like jelly. Going out there to play felt terrible, really. I guess it was the same for Ivan. But once I won my serve on my first game I started to feel better."

And, from the minute he started serving, Lendl was in trouble. Cash had five break points in the first game, which lasted seven deuces and 13 minutes. He didn't convert any of them as Lendl kept coming up with big serves when he had to, but the tone was set.

"I was lucky not to get broken in the second game," Lendl said. "I was just hoping I could get through and maybe have a chance in the tie breaker. But then he played a great tie breaker."

Before they reached the tie breaker, Cash had squandered six break points in all -- the last of them at set point. Lendl never once had him in trouble on his serve, reaching deuce only once. If, after dominating the first set Cash had lost it, it might have been very discouraging for him.

"Except for the one game in the third set when I was broken, I thought I served very well the whole match," Cash said. "But in the tie breaker I served really well and, to tell the truth, I didn't think he returned very well."

In fact, Lendl failed to put any of Cash's first three tie breaker serves into play. By contrast, Cash not only returned three of Lendl's serves, he hit three for winners. That put him up, 6-1, with five set points and the serve. He needed every one of those set points. Two loose points on his serve made it 6-3. Two big serves by Lendl made it 6-5. Cash had one serve for the set.

"I didn't feel I was in trouble," he said. "But I definitely wanted to come in with a serve on that point."

He did exactly that, a high-kicker to Lendl's backhand. Lendl's reaching return sailed wide and, after 73 minutes, Cash at last had the first set he had worked so hard for.

The second set was much easier. Cash was juiced up and Lendl's self-belief, so solid all week, might have been shaken. "I told myself before the match that no matter what happens, keep on fighting," Lendl said. "You never know what will happen in tennis, who will get lucky or unlucky."

Lendl kept trying to serve to the backhand all day. But Cash was ready for him. He had noticed watching Lendl play Edberg in the semifinals that Lendl liked to serve wide to the backhand. He was sitting on that serve all day, especially on second serves.

He finally got the break he had been stalking all through the first set in the third game of the second. He put Lendl in a 15-40 hole, then made a superb, lunging forehand return of an excellent serve, putting the ball at Lendl's feet. Lendl's diving backhand volley sailed deep.

Now, Cash was in command. The crowd sensed this and began to urge him on. Cash was playing in a trance at this stage. In four service games during the second set, he didn't lose a point. Lendl put only four of 16 Cash serves into play in the set.

"When Barc {Barclay} told me after the match that I hadn't lost a point in the second set on serve I thought that was amazing," Cash said. "I hadn't realized it at all. I thought going in, my returning would be the key and so did Barc."

Lendl agreed his inability to get Cash's serve in play and Cash's knack for making Lendl play every point made a difference. "I had to hit a lot more volleys than he did," Lendl said. "I think, in the end, that was the difference."

The second set was gone quickly, Cash needing only 37 minutes.

Yet, for a split-second, it appeared Cash might wilt. Serving at 1-2 in the third set, Cash played his first loose game. He missed a forehand volley, punched a backhand volley deep and watched a rare forehand by Lendl whistle by him. That gave Lendl his only break point of the match. He converted it when Cash clipped another forehand volley wide.

All of a sudden, Lendl had life. Cash walked back to the base line talking to himself, while Lendl was pumping his head, pushing himself to keep driving.

But Lendl's concentration, usually so fierce, just wasn't there today. He quickly made two errors and when Cash nailed a beautiful topspin lob it was 0-40 and it looked like Cash would break right back. Shockingly, he didn't. Lendl gave him three chances to return second serves and Cash made three errors. Lendl held for 4-1.

"I was really angry with myself right then," Cash said. "I didn't play well in that patch and losing the match did flash through my mind for a second. But even so, I was a long way from losing. I just had to right myself."

Lendl held easily for 5-2. But that was the last game he won. Cash held at love for 5-3, the seventh of his nine love games. Lendl served for the set, just as he had served for the third set a year ago against Becker. The result was the same.

After two excellent returns by Cash, Lendl came up with a serve to get to 15-30, but netted an easy backhand volley to go down, 15-40. He saved the first break point with a pretty forehand half-volley. But on the second break point, after almost three hours of constant pressure, he double-faulted.

Cash had the break back. He held at love, then made quick work of the final break. Lendl put himself at 0-30, missing two easy volleys. Given that edge, Cash came up with a backhand return. Again, Lendl saved the first two break points. But on the third one, Cash cracked a backhand at his feet and Lendl, never comfortable when forced to scoop the ball, pushed it into the net.

Cash was four points away now and he wasted no time getting there. He was at 40-0 in a flash and the old green place was rocking. Even Princess Diana was clapping with enthusiasm as Cash looked around and took one last deep breath. He served down the middle, charged in and hit a forehand volley. Lendl got to it, but his return sat up and Cash smacked it cross court into the clear. Lendl could only watch.

For a moment, Cash stood stockstill, as if shocked by what he had done. While he made his dash for the friends box, Lendl sat on his chair, staring at the grass.