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Pospisil and Sock beat Bryan brothers in thriller

Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock during the Gentlemen's Doubles Final
by Matt Trollope
Saturday 5 July 2014

Two weeks ago, Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock had never played doubles together. On Saturday, they became Wimbledon champions.

And the Canadian-American duo did so in the most stunning style imaginable, upsetting arguably the greatest doubles team to have ever lived – No.1 seeds and reigning Wimbledon champions Bob and Mike Bryan – in five thrilling sets on Centre Court. They won 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5

“To be honest, our games just click perfectly together. I think throughout the tournament, when one guy was down a little bit the other guy raised the level at the perfect time. We were complementing each other extremely well throughout the tournament. That's why we got to the final,” Pospisil said.

“We're a dangerous team. I mean, I don't know what to say right now. We're Wimbledon champions.”

The Bryans held serve in an entertaining opening game that featured quick volley exchanges, and when they broke in the second game for a 2-0 lead, it seemed they were poised to overwhelm their inexperienced opponents. Yet Pospisil and Sock settled quickly; they snared the break back in the very next game thanks to Sock’s big hitting and a double fault from Mike Bryan.

The set progressed to a tie-break, which is where everyone imagined the Bryans would assert their authority. But instead it was the Canadian-American duo who flourished. They scored the first mini-break and thanks to big serving from Sock, surged ahead 5-2. They would later gain two set points after winning a thrilling exchange at net – ending with a Sock overhead winner – which had the crowd in raptures. The Bryans erased the mini-break after winning a point that saw the players lobbing and switching sides and which ended with a backhand winner from Mike Bryan. But despite serving on the next point they were unable to level; Pospisil cracked a forehand winner to give the underdogs a one-set lead.

The unseeded pair were making their presence felt on the big stage; as Bob slipped when playing a volley, Pospisil sent the ensuing smash straight at him on the ground. Games followed serve throughout the second set to another tie-break, which the Bryans wrested control of. They scored the mini-break with a point they were lucky to win, somehow ending up on the same side of the court only for Sock to miss a forehand long. Mike then came to the fore, threading a forehand winner up the line and then smashing a winner to level the match.

The third set looked headed for yet another breaker; that was until Pospisil and Sock played back-to-back forehand winners in the seventh game on their way to breaking for a 4-3 lead. Big serving from Sock – capped with an ace up the T – helped his team move ahead 5-3, and with Pospisil serving just as effectively as his partner in the ninth game, he extracted a return error, and the Canadian-American combo were in pole position once more.

They would rue their missed chances in the fourth set. In the third game, Pospisil played brilliant tennis, keeping the unseeded duo alive with breath-taking volleys and desperate retrieving before powering a forehand winner up the line for 30-30, and a point later, he and Sock had break point. Yet the Bryans escaped, and all of a sudden broke serve themselves; with Pospisil melting down in errors – he missed an overhead and a volley on either side of a double fault – the top seeds suddenly lead 3-1. They maintained this advantage throughout the fourth set to send the match into a fifth.

With the match on serve in the fifth, neither team came close to breaking the deadlock. But deep in the set, Pospisil and Sock made their move. Two winning returns in the 10th game gave them 0-30, and when Bob Bryan foot-faulted and then double-faulted, they had match points at 15-40. Bob served his team out of trouble to level at 5-5, but two games later, Pospisil and Sock again surged, with the Canadian punching away a leaping backhand volley for two more match points.

The Bryans again got scores back to deuce, but this time, Pospisil and Sock would not be denied; Sock danced around a second serve return and crushed a forehand winner up the line to seal a famous victory.

In an obscure but impressive stat, Sock becomes the third youngest man in the Open Era – behind legends John McEnroe and Todd Woodbridge – to win both a men’s and mixed doubles Grand Slam title (he won the 2011 US Open mixed title with Melanie Oudin).

The Bryans, meanwhile, face pressure entering the US Open; if they were not to win it, it would be the first time since 2004 that they have not won at least one major title in a single season.

Pospisil and Sock's fortnight at the All England Club had been an extraordinary one; they ousted the eighth, second and fifth seeds en route to the title match. “Our road here was pretty crazy, playing Bopanna-Qureshi, Peya-Soares, Paes-Stepanek, and then the Bryans. I think before if we had known that was our path, I don't know how certain we'd be that we'd be sitting here right now,” Sock said.

It was even more impressive considering Pospisil had been struggling with his back prior to the event, and was not even sure if he would enter.

Now, they have their names etched on one of the most prestigious trophies in the sport.

“We had a lot of fun. People could see that. I think that's part of why we did well. We really enjoyed being out there, enjoyed the moment,” Sock reflected.

“(It was) both of our first times on Centre Court there. As kids we grew up watching this tournament. This is what we kind of dreamed of doing. To be able to go out there and play the best doubles team of all time and to get a win was pretty incredible.”

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