Pospisil savours Wimbledon crown

Vernon tennis star Vasek Pospisil reflects on his Wimbledon men's doubles tennis championship with American partner Jack Sock

“Close your eyes, hope you play the best tennis of your life.”

Wishes do come true for Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil, 24, who made the statement after he and his 21-year-old American partner, Jack Sock of Lincoln, Neb., won the Wimbledon men’s doubles crown Saturday in London.

Pospisil, who now lives and trains in Vancouver, and Sock upset defending champion American twins Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a three-hour, six-minute thriller.

Pospisil and Sock were playing together for the first time, and are the first team since 2000 (Lleyton Hewitt and Max Mirnyi) to win a Grand Slam title in their first tournament together.

The Bryan twins were bidding for a 16th Grand Slam doubles title and 99th overall.

The winners broke the top-seeded Bryan brothers’ service in the final game on their fifth match point, with Sock smashing the winning forehand on a Mike Bryan second serve.

“The best part of today was not having to hit anything on match point,” joked Pospisil to reporters at the post-victory press conference. “Just watching Jack run behind the forehand and rip it down the line into the court.”

Sock and Pospisil were playing on Wimbledon’s Centre Court for the first time. Pospisil, ranked 179th in the speciality, was playing in only his fifth doubles event at a major.

“Everything felt like a movie, it was going by so fast,” said Pospisil Monday in a conference call with reporters from Bradenton, Fla, where he’s preparing for hard-court tournaments in Colombia, Altanta and Washington, D.C.

“It has settled down now, I have taken a plane ride and I’m back home and I’m seeing the all the articles and images and I’m starting to understand that it was a dream come true.

“The champagne started flowing as soon as we got back into the locker room and we had a great night. It was a very good night for my friends and family.”

Pospisil was born in Vernon, the youngest of three boys to Milos and Mila. His story of hitting shopping carts loaded with tennis balls at the old Vernon Secondary School courts with his dad and brothers is well-known.

His brother, Tom, was at centre court to see Vasek win Wimbledon.

“My brother was in London so we got to celebrate afterwards,” said Pospisil.

“The first person I called after I won was my dad, then I called my mom. I could barely understand my mom, she was so overcome with emotion. My father had trouble speaking too, just not as bad.”

Pospisil and Sock saved four match points over two fifth-set games before Sock drilled a winner down the line for the historic victory.

“Our games just clicked perfectly together,” said Pospisil of the pairing with Sock. “I think, throughout the tournament, when one guy was down the other guy would raise their game. I think we were complementing each other extremely well the whole tournament. That’s why we got to the final.”

Sock became the third-youngest player to win both a Grand Slam men’s doubles title and a Grand Slam mixed doubles championship in the Open era, adding to the mixed title he won with American Melanie Oudin at the U.S. Open in 2011.

Todd Woodbridge and John McEnroe, both 20, were the only men to win both titles at a younger age, with McEnroe being the youngest.

Pospisil’s previous best was the round of 16 with Ottawa’s Jesse Levine at Wimbledon in 2013 and with Toronto’s Daniel Nestor at the 2013 US Open.

The last time there was a Canadian man in the Wimbledon doubles final was in 2009 when Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic won their second All England Club title.

Both Pospisil and Sock made early exits in singles play. Pospisil went out in the first round, Sock was eliminated in round two by another Canadian, Milos Raonic.

“The doubles win is definitely the highlight of my career, that goes without saying,” said Pospisil. “The last two weeks have been amazing as the whole year has been a struggle (with injury). I was just not feeling good on the court.

“Last week was the first week I’ve been pain-free on the court this year, and to cap it off with a Wimbledon title is not bad.”

It was the first Wimbledon men’s doubles final to feature four players from North America since 1983 when Peter Fleming and McEnroe defeated fellow Americans Tim and Tom Gullikson.

Pospisil’s victory capped a great run at Wimbledon for Canadian tennis.

Quebec’s Genie Bouchard lost the women’s final Saturday but became the first Canadian to reach a grand slam final in the open era.

Raonic lost in the men’s semifinal Friday to seven-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic of France lost to Mirnyi and Chan Hao-Ching of Taiwan 7-6 (4), 7-5 in the mixed doubles semifinal.

Pospisil will compete in the Rogers Cup tournament Aug. 2-10 in Toronto. He lost in the semifinals of the same event last year in Montreal to Raonic.


Vernon Morning Star