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Kooyong tennis the key for top men: Cash

AAP logoAAP 12/01/2017 Melissa Woods

Two-time Australian Open finalist Pat Cash says playing in the men's tournaments in Sydney and Auckland is a kiss of death for grand slam hopes at Melbourne Park.

The Australian summer has hit a flat spot the week before the Open in recent years, with the world's best men preferring to practise rather than play.

Cash said he understood why many of the top men opted out of tournament play, with five-set contests possibly looming in the first major of the year.

He believed the Kooyong Classic offered the best alternative.

The Sydney International tournament lures most of the top women, as it's rated a Premier event, meaning it offers more rankings points.

Despite world No.8 Austrian Dominic Thiem defending his title, Cash wouldn't go near it or the Auckland Classic.

"Playing the week before in the men's and doing well is the kiss of death as everybody who does well loses," Cash told AAP.

"Auckland is also the kiss of death - if you play there and do well, you're out in the first or second round of the Australian Open almost every time.

"The conditions are very different so I don't know why players would play there."

The 51-year-old admitted he had a soft spot for his old home court Kooyong, which used to attract the cream of tennis elite.

This year, the highest-ranked player for the four-day exhibition is world No.11 Belgian David Goffin, while Australia's Bernard Tomic will also play two matches.

But contested on the same surface and in mostly the same weather conditions as Melbourne Park 10 kilometres down the road, Cash doesn't know why more top players don't tune up there.

"I don't understand it - this would be my first pick," he said.

He said a change to Kooyong's schedule a few years back, when the final was held on a Saturday, put players off but, now it was back to Friday, he predicted more would want in.

"I think players will come around because it's a perfect warm-up.

"As much as it's tricky playing here, you want that in a practice match; it's hot or windy or swirly and it might be the same in a few days' time just down the road."

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