WIMBLEDON – If Vasek Pospisil doesn’t see Wimbledon’s Court 12 again in this lifetime, it’ll probably be too soon.
He spent so much time there Monday in both singles and doubles, they’ll probably put his name on a plaque and affix it to one of the green players’ chairs.
After a five-set victory in singles over Viktor Troicki that began at 11:30 a.m., he returned to the same court two hours later to play his third-round doubles match with partner Jack Sock.
That put another five sets on the Pospisil odometer, not the best scenario given he has a date with home-country hero Andy Murray on Centre Court Wednesday. Even worse, they lost, and will not defend their Wimbledon doubles title.
But Pospisil said he’d do it all again. “Obviously it would be better if we lost in three (sets) than 8‑6 in the fifth, but you don't know that, right? You're just trying to win the match,” he said. “So there are no regrets.”
By the time Pospisil finished with the media after the doubles, he had been on site over 12 hours – most of it either playing tennis, or doing recovery between the two matches, including a little ice-bath intermission.
So he had to think back a little to remember exactly how he came back from two sets to none down to defeat Troicki, the No. 22 seed and a former top-15 player who had to fight all the way back from outside the top 600 after serving a long suspension for refusing to take a blood test.
“I maybe didn't have the start I wanted to have, and then I had chances – well, you know, I got unlucky a little bit in the (second-set) breaker there. And even being down two sets, it didn't faze me,” Pospisil said. “I feel I'm pretty tough that way. Even if I'm down, I'm always finding ways to come back and trying to. So I did a good job. I was serving well and I made the right adjustments tactically on the return. And played well the rest of the way.”
That “toughness” has been a long time in coming, a weapon Pospisil is only now focusing on trying to add to his considerable arsenal. Part of it is that he now has more experience with the long haul of a five-set match.
“I kind of know how to manage it better, I think. That was something that I was struggling with in previous years. I think I have really just kind of figured that out, how to kind of go about long matches like this,” he said. “I know it's a long match even if you're down two sets, and the last set is always the toughest one to win. I knew that, and I knew that it would be tough for him to win that last one as long as I stayed in it and showed my presence and showed that I was there. So that's what I tried to do.”
Pospisil coach Frédéric Fontang told Eh Game that it was a very mature match.
“A big step forward to what he's capable of doing. He wasn’t rushing. That’s what he did well, he went forward, but without rushing, without looking for the winning shot. The point construction was good,” Fontang said. “Viktor was serving very well. Vasek didn’t have a lot of chances to break, didn’t really have the solution on the return. But it changed when Vasek started to change the rhythm a little from the back of the court. Viktor made a few mistakes, and it started to swing over. Vasek was able to hold onto his serve until the end of the match and by making him play a little more from the back court, he got through.”
The doubles was a different story. Pospisil and Sock came out a bit bereft against a good team in Jamie Murray (Andy’s big brother) and Aussie John Peers, neither of whom are big servers but both of whom are excellent doubles players.
Sock may have been trying a little too hard to do more than his share, knowing his partner had played a long singles match and knowing that every bit of energy he saved was key for the Wednesday quarter-final.
It appeared the British-Aussie would get through in straight sets when, all of a sudden, everything changed.
At 1-1 in the third-set tiebreak, Pospisil hit a backhand volley that was called out – except Peers appeared to have touched it with his racquet.
Pospisil and Sock were infuriated. Peers said he wasn’t sure, that he hadn’t felt it. The chair umpire didn’t call it. Sock used the “b.s.” word without getting a warning; Pospisil, ever the gentleman, used the euphemism “horrible”.
As Sock – who’s a non-stop, on-court talker regardless of the circumstances, kept jabbing away at Peers, repeatedly asking him if he “felt good about himself” for failing to own up (which isn’t, in fact, his job, but the umpire’s job), the pair got fired up.
It didn’t help that the umpire appeared to have told Sock a little later that he made a mistake. “That just makes it even worse,” was Sock’s reaction.
Still, they won that third-set tiebreak, and the fourth set, and only when Pospisil clearly ran out of legs when serving to stay in the match at 6-7 in the fifth did they finally succumb.
“Well, it helped. We almost came back and won maybe because of that. You know, I think the energy was pretty low and it's also tough to come back after a singles match, and that kind of changed it for us,” Pospisil said. “And then we started playing better, and, you know, playing more like what we are used to playing, and that gave us a chance there at the end a little to come back and win it – almost.
The final score was 6-3, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5). 3-6, 8-6.
In the end, Jamie Murray – whose brother paused during his press conference, held concurrently with the end of the doubles match to note his victory – may have done little brother a huge favour by keeping his quarter-final singles opponent on court an extra couple of hours in doubles.
Had they won the match, Pospisil and Sock would have had to be out there Tuesday playing No. 8 seeds Bruno Soares and Alexander Peya in the doubles quarter-final.
Rather, he’ll get 36 hours to recover and only have a little light practice.
Soares and Peya survived a marathon of their own against No. 11 seeds Leander Paes and Pospisil’s Davis Cup partner Daniel Nestor earlier in the day.
They won the first two sets, saw Paes and Nestor roar back to take the next two, and ended up winning 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 and preventing a double Canadian presence in the next round.
Nestor did win his first-round mixed doubles match with partner Kristina Mladenovic, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 against the British team of Johanna Konta and Ken Skupski.