Tokyo Olympics: No fans 'unfortunate' but not 'unusual', says Cash

By Sports Desk July 19, 2021

Having seen crowds return to a range of tour events, former Wimbledon winner Pat Cash understands the disappointment of tennis moving back to behind closed doors at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Each of the three grand slam events to have taken place this year has been held with fans in attendance, with Centre Court seeing capacity crowds for each of the singles finals at Wimbledon. The US Open, which begins on August 30, will allow 100 per cent fan capacity at Flushing Meadows for the final major of 2021.

However, Cash does not believe the lack of spectators at the Games will have too much of an impact on the players who have elected to travel to Japan.

"Well it's unfortunate that the Olympics won't have any fans. I think that's a real disappointment," Cash told Stats Perform.

"But 95 per cent of our life is played on an empty practice court and stadiums.

"Certainly, when you're coming through, nobody's watching you. It's only when you get to Wimbledon or something that you play with crowds, and they can make a difference. We've also been playing most of the year without them.

"To go back [to no fans] it's unfortunate, but it's not something unusual for the players. The crowd certainly does make a difference. It makes a difference with attention and with the crowd roaring and whistling or whatever they want to do."

World number two Naomi Osaka, who will return to action having withdrawn from the French Open to protect her well-being and subsequently skipped Wimbledon, is one athlete who could have benefited from the home support in Japan.

Though he is unsure of how boisterous the home crowd would have been in Tokyo, Cash still feels for the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner.

 

"With no crowds there that's disappointing for her," he added. 

"But you know, it's sort of something we've become used to on the tour - playing with empty crowds and the nerves still kick in, it is all about winning, and players tend to learn to block the crowds out quite well.

"They stay in their own world when they're on the tennis court. The urgency and the intensity of a match is not really going to change that much because the players really want this for themselves."

Related items

  • Collins secures maiden WTA singles title with victory over Ruse in Palermo Collins secures maiden WTA singles title with victory over Ruse in Palermo

    Top seed Danielle Collins sealed her first WTA singles title on Sunday with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the Palermo Open.

    American Collins, who was top-seeded at a WTA tournament for the first time, did not drop a set all week on her way to a memorable win in Sicily. 

    Collins had lost all six of her previous tour-level semi-finals, but she showed superb composure to brush aisde world number 137 Ruse with the minimum of fuss in one hour and 50 minutes. 

    The victory meant she became the 14th first-time singles champion on the WTA Tour this season, on the same day Maryna Zanevska became the 13th maiden winner in Gdynia. 

    "After everything I've been through, moments where I almost thought about retiring, and after everything we've gone through with the pandemic, it's nice to be able to see the crowd in the stands again," Collins said.

     

  • Alcaraz seals stunning Croatia Open triumph, becomes youngest ATP title winner since Nishikori Alcaraz seals stunning Croatia Open triumph, becomes youngest ATP title winner since Nishikori

    Carlos Alcaraz won his first of possibly many ATP Tour titles on Sunday with an emphatic victory over Richard Gasquet at the Croatia Open. 

    The 6-2 6-2 win in Umag meant 18-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest tour-level champion since Kei Nishikori won at Delray Beach in 2008, also aged 18.

    Despite his tender years, seventh seed Alcaraz was too hot to handle for Gasquet, the highly rated Spaniard cruising past his significantly more experienced opponent in one hour and 17 minutes.

    "I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players," Alcaraz told atptour.com.

    "I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It's going to be useful for the future."

    Gasquet, who needed more than three hours to overcome Daniel Altmaier in the last four, was hoping to win his first tour title since 's-Hertogenbosch in 2018.

    "It was tough for me to play [with] full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday. It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin," Gasquet said.

    "He’s playing unbelievable. He’s only 18 and of course he has a great future and I just couldn’t play at his level and his intensity.

    "That was the key of the match and he didn't lose a point. He played well, very solid. He's a great player."

  • Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Monday Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Monday

    The third full day of the Tokyo Olympics sees 21 gold medals up for grabs during a packed programme.

    Plenty of eyes will be on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where four swimming golds will be on the line, while the first women's skateboarding champion will be crowned.

    The rugby sevens event gets under way and the men's triathlon will also take place.

    Stats Perform picks out some of the standout action.

     

    LEDECKY STEPS UP GOLD QUEST

    After winning four golds in Rio five years ago, Katie Ledecky has the chance to add four more to her collection in Tokyo, starting with the women's 400m freestyle.

    The United States competitor set a world record time in the event in 2016, but she will face a big challenge from Australia's Ariarne Titmus this time.

    Titmus was marginally faster than Ledecky in the heats, though whether that edge will count for anything on the day remains to be seen.


    WILL IT BE ANOTHER PEATY BLINDER?

    Great Britain's Adam Peaty is nothing short of a phenomenon in the world of swimming and will be looking to retain his 100m breaststroke title.

    Peaty qualified for the final in a dominant manner, his time of 57.56s just two hundredths of a second off his own world record pace.

    Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands is expected to be Peaty's biggest threat, having produced a personal best of 57.80s in the previous heat.


    MORE SEVENS HEAVEN FOR FIJI?

    Fiji's triumph in the men's rugby sevens was one of the more remarkable stories of the Rio Games and the islanders will now be out to retain their title in Tokyo over the coming weeks.

    They begin their group campaign on Monday with games against tournament hosts Japan and then Canada later in the day.


    MEN'S TRIATHLON WIDE OPEN

    The men's triathlon is a tough one to call, with back-to-back champion Alistair Brownlee not taking part in this year's event.

    The likes of Alex Yee, Kristian Blummenfelt, Morgan Pearson and Tyler Mislawchuk are among those to watch in one the standout events at any Games.


    BILES SURVIVES, NOW MEN MUST THRIVE

    After Simone Biles struggled to find top gear in her Games entrance on Sunday, albeit making it through to each of her finals, Monday's gymnastics event is the men's team final.

    Japan are the defending champions and led the way in qualifying, but they are expected to face stiff competition from China and the Russian Olympic Committee team. Watch out for Russian maestro Nikita Nagornyy and Japan's Daiki Hashimoto among a star-studded cast.


    OSAKA BACK IN ACTION

    It is proving to be a busy Games for Naomi Osaka, who followed lighting the Olympic cauldron on Friday with a first-round tennis win on Sunday.

    Japan's four-time grand slam winner is back on court on Monday, looking to inch closer to the women's singles final. Awaiting her is Swiss world number 50 Viktorija Golubic, and it will be their first match encounter. Men's title hopefuls Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are among those also due in action.


    WOMEN'S SKATEBOARDING MAKES ITS DEBUT

    Japan's Yuto Horigome made history on Sunday by winning the first Olympic gold in men's skateboarding. On Monday, it is the turn of the women.

    Among those competing in the event are Kokona Hiraki of Japan and Team GB's Sky Brown, who are aged 12 and 13 respectively.

    After plenty of falls and drama in the men's equivalent, expect more of the same in this inaugural event. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.