MELBOURNE, JAN. 24 -- Pat Cash was hoping to turn the Australian Open tennis championships into a national celebration. But Mats Wilander spoiled the party.
The 23-year-old Swede downed hometown hero Cash in a five-set final today to win his third Australian Open. Wilander said he has worked hard to improve his game since losing the French and U.S. Open finals to Ivan Lendl last year.
"It is a long time since I've seen the top four players in the world so intense to win a tournament," said the third-seeded Wilander following his 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 victory in a match interrupted twice by rain. "All four of us felt we could win it and that's why it feels so good to succeed."
Wilander had defeated defending champion and second-seeded Stefan Edberg and Cash beat Ivan Lendl, No. 1 in the world and the top seed, in semifinal matches.
Wilander earned $155,000 in prize money and bonuses for winning the $1.9 million tournament. Cash received $77,500.
The fourth-seeded Cash, 22, who lost to Edberg in last year's final, was backed by a vocal crowd 15,000 at the new National Tennis Center. The new site also meant a new surface, from the grass of nearby Kooyong to a cushioned hardcourt surface.
"I'm not greatly disappointed, although I obviously wanted to win," the 1987 Wimbledon champion said. "You cannot play the best tennis of your life every day. There are only a few points between the top players in the world and one day it will go one way, another day the other."
In the first set, Wilander broke in the third game when Cash double faulted at 15-40. Wilander saved three break points in the sixth game and, in the ninth game, raced to 0-40 before Cash fought back to 40-30. Cash lost the set when a lob over Wilander's head drifted wide.
Wilander, who had lost his previous four Grand Slam matches against Cash, was leading, 4-1, in the second set when the match was halted by rain. After the 33-minute delay, Cash survived two break points to hold serve, broke Wilander and held again to tie the set. In the tie breaker, Cash hit some stinging returns and perfectly placed lobs to even the match.
"I played the best tennis of my career in the first two sets and I don't know how I lost the second," Wilander said. "But that's one of Cash's strengths. He came back."
A second downpour delayed play in the third set with Cash leading, 3-0. This time when play resumed, Wilander seemed stronger, breaking Cash twice before Cash broke back and went on to win the set.
Wilander blitzed through the fourth set, leading 5-0 before Cash won a game. Wilander served out the set at love in the seventh game.
Wilander took a 2-0 lead in the final set. Cash broke back in the fourth game. Both held serve until the 13th game when Wilander earned his second break point by retrieving a series of smashes before forcing the Australian into a short lob. Wilander converted that second break point for a 7-6 lead and served out the match at love.
Wilander said his serve was a key to victory. He was not as powerful as Cash, but he got 76 percent of his first serves in to 60 percent for Cash and made 21 unforced errors to 48 for Cash. Wilander double-faulted only twice to nine for Cash.
He said he thought Cash tired late in the match. "He got down for his volleys but he missed them and he didn't serve as well," he said.
Earlier, top-seeded Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver won the women's doubles title for the sixth straight time. They beat Chris Evert and Wendy Turnbull, 6-0, 7-5, for their 18th Grand Slam doubles title.
Steffi Graf won the women's title Saturday with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Evert.
Jim Pugh, 23, of Palos Verde, Calif., had a successful tournament. He teamed with Rick Leach of Laguna Beach, Calif., to win the men's doubles with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Jeremy Bates of Britain and Peter Lundgren of Sweden. Then he and Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia won the mixed doubles title from Navratilova and Tim Gullikson of Boca West, Fla., 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.