Canadian Vasek Pospisil's trip to the doubles final eight in London tripped up by an uncooperative net in Paris

Eh Game
Canadian Vasek Pospisil's trip to the doubles final eight in London tripped up by an uncooperative net in Paris
Canadian Vasek Pospisil's trip to the doubles final eight in London tripped up by an uncooperative net in Paris

They left it to the very last minute, needing to win the title at the Masters 1000 tournament in Paris this week as an unseeded pair and hoping two other teams fell early, to qualify for the ATP World Tour finals later this month.

Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock almost made it. But for the second consecutive season, they missed it by that much after a 2-6, 6-3, 10-5 defeat to No. 2 seeds and French Open champions Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Ivan Dodig of Croatia, in the final on Sunday.

Everything had fallen into place. Pospisil and Sock had rolled to the final by defeating, among others, the No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in the quarter-finals.

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The team of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, 500 points ahead going into the week, needed to lose before the finals to guarantee Pospisil and Sock a shot. And they did.

Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea, more than 600 points ahead as the tournament began, needed to lose before the final. And they did – beaten 12-10 in the match tiebreak by Melo and Dodig in the quarter-finals.

The road to London seemed smooth for Pospisil and Sock in the first set of the Sunday final in Paris. But fate – and an unfriendly net cord – intervened. (TennisTV.com)
The road to London seemed smooth for Pospisil and Sock in the first set of the Sunday final in Paris. But fate – and an unfriendly net cord – intervened. (TennisTV.com)

After a 6-2 first set in which the Can-American duo dominated on serve and Dodig and Melo struggled on their own, it seemed it was meant to be.

But one poor game in the second set on Pospisil's serve – at 2-3, he led 40-15, but was broken on a half-lucky shank return that landed on the line – made the difference in the second set.

In the match tiebreak, the net cord took over, and a fairly taciturn match heated up. No less than four points were decided by the Paris net; three of them went the way of Melo and Dodig, none more important than the one on Melo's serve with Pospisil and Sock leading 4-2.

"Tough one to swallow. Two years in row we’re one out of London," Sock said during the trophy presentations. "We’ve had a lot of fun playing doubles and we’ll do so next year and hopefully for many years to come."

With that loss, Bopanna (who earlier in the year had been dumped as a partner by Pospisil's countryman Daniel Nestor) and Mergea made the final eight in London.

Pospisil and Sock aren't going to London as the alternates. So the season is over; vacation time.

There's little debate that if they played a full schedule, Pospisil and Sock would be odds-on favourites to make London every year. Paris was only their 12th tournament together; among the top 15 teams, only Nestor and French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin, whose debut came at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in mid-August, played fewer.

The team of Jamie Murray and John Peers, Grand Slam finalists twice and No. 3 in the overall race, played 25 tournaments together.

For the second straight year, Pospisil and Sock got close to London, but couldn't make it. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
For the second straight year, Pospisil and Sock got close to London, but couldn't make it. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Both have said often that the doubles is just fun (and prize money), while the priority for both is singles. Many have a hard time believing it, given what's at stake. But the proof is in their lack of a cooperative plan to team up more often.

They didn't commit early on several occasions this season, opting to sign-in at the last minute. They didn't play the Rogers Cup together this year, with 1,000 points available to the winner. Pospisil, whose ranking left him just out of the main draw for the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati the following week, didn't want a run in doubles in Montreal to impact his ability to play the qualifying there.

On the Asian swing, Sock came over late, and the pair didn't find themselves in the same place at the same time until a 500-level event in Beijing – which they won. The following week in Shanghai, with another 1,000 points potentially on offer, they fell in the first round to the far-less-accomplished Aussie team of Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic.

Back in Europe on the indoor circuit, they again had disparate schedules until the Paris event, where they again signed in the previous weekend and, faced with a top-notch field as an unseeded team, went for it.

Until the final.

It wasn't quite the same scenario as in 2014. Last year, Pospisil admitted they thought as Wimbledon champions they were virtually guaranteed a spot in London, and took it a little bit for granted. (The rules for London allow for one Grand Slam-winning duo to qualify if they haven't otherwise made it by being in the top eight teams. That was the case for Pospisil and Sock. Unfortunately for them, this was a year that another "outsider" team, Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt – who won the Australian Open and played 18 events to Pospisil and Sock's seven – and edged them out for that "wild-card" spot by 50 points.

But in the end, the result was the same: bridesmaids.

Pospisil told Eh Game that they don't plan to change anything for 2016. They'll still team up when they can, enjoy it when they can, but continue to make singles the priority.

If their road together has shown anything, it might be that they play their best when they feel no pressure, when there isn't anything major at stake. In those moments when they "had" to win a match, they played as though they felt that pressure.

Still, they should have many more opportunities.

Dodig and Melo, Pospisil and Sock with their trophies after the Paris Maters final Sunday. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dodig and Melo, Pospisil and Sock with their trophies after the Paris Maters final Sunday. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

"I feel sorry, second year you are fighting for final Masters. but hopefully other years," Dodig said during the trophy presentations. "You guys are a very good team and much younger than me and Marcelo, so it’s gonna come soon."

  

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