Vasek Pospisil's Wimbledon comes to an end with a straight-set loss to Andy Murray in the quarter-finals

Vasek Pospisil's Wimbledon comes to an end with a straight-set loss to Andy Murray in the quarter-finals

WIMBLEDON – On the day Canadian Vasek Pospisil made his Grand Slam final-eight debut on Centre Court at Wimbledon against former champion and overwhelming crowd favourite Andy Murray, after playing 31 sets of tennis over six separate days leading into it … 

Stop or a moment, and re-read the above, and get a sense of how uphill the battle was for the 25-year-old from Vancouver was on Wednesday.

A victory, in the context of Pospisil’s busy Wimbledon, would have been an unexpected if gloriously welcome one. But the fairy-tale storyline came to an end with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Murray victory that was competitive even if the outcome rarely – okay, make that pretty much never – seemed in doubt.

I feel like this is his home court, too. He's one of those guys, apart from maybe Rafa at the French, Roger here as well. And then he's obviously really tough to beat here, as well. I knew that from the beginning,” Pospisil said. “With all the tennis that I've played, too, this past week, I felt like that didn't go into my favour.  I felt a little bit heavy-legged as the match was going on. But he played great.  I mean, I thought it was a good level.”

On one hand, Pospisil just didn’t have much petrol in the tank. On the other hand, he was facing the world No. 3, a highly experienced chap with one of the best serve returns games in the world at the tournament in which he says he somehow always plays his best tennis.

“Looking back, maybe it would have been nice to just have played singles this week.  But, yeah, I mean, I gave everything I had.  I don't think that affected the result too much,” Pospisil said.

There was a whole lot working against Pospisil in this tournament, notably the best-of-five set format in the doubles that resulted in him spending just about every daylight hour on Monday out on Court 12 between his comeback from two sets to none down against Viktor Troicki in the fourth round of the singles, and his five-set defeat in the doubles with American partner Jack Sock.

Ball boys cover Centre Court as rain starts to fall during the men&';s singles quarterfinal match between Andy Murray  Vasek Pospisil Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Ball boys cover Centre Court as rain starts to fall during the men&';s singles quarterfinal match between Andy Murray Vasek Pospisil Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

He was one set short of the max in terms of sets played in his first four singles rounds, evening his 2-5 five-set record at 5-5 in the process and putting together his first-ever comeback from two sets to none down.

Then, the match itself had a spotty start, or stop-and-start. It featured one short rain delay early on that probably helped Pospisil, as his serve was broken early and he had at least a little time to regroup.

“I came out and felt like I had the upper hand, just even mentally. It felt like I was there, you know, was dictating play a little bit. Obviously the second (rain delay) benefited him. But that's the way it goes. That's kind of how it is. I did the best I could with the situation,” Pospisil said.

After the second stoppage in play, the decision was made to close the roof. “It was a little bit more humid in there, which made it tougher for me, given the amount of tennis I've played and the amount of sets I've played.  I started sweating a little bit more.  That maybe had a little effect, but not too much,” he said.

One additional element pointed out by Andy Roddick, making his analyst  debut for the BBC Wednesday, was that in most cases indoor matches are quicker (which obviously would have suited Pospisil’s game better).

But not at Wimbledon. 

“Here’s it’s different. With the body heat of everyone, the ball gets a lot bigger, it’s tougher to get it through the court. I think it helped Murray in that match,” Roddick said. “(Murray) was just so solid. Pospisil was probably walking off the court going, ‘I don’t feel like I was blown off the court but I was routed in straight sets.’ That’s the genius of Murray.”

The slow, painful-looking walk back to the locker room from Centre Court after it was over spoke volumes. Pospisil had his head down. He didn’t seem to think walking in a straight line was something he needed to focus on particularly. In fact, he looked more weary right at that moment, once it was all over, than he had during the actual match.

“He serves well. He comes to the net. He uses a slice backhand. He's a very good athlete. He's quick around the court. You know, he always seems to have, you know, quite entertaining matches,” Murray said. “Yeah, he's a tricky guy to play against.”

In a straight-set loss, assuming it wasn’t a total blowout, you have to take the positives.

Pospisil was beaten by a better, more experienced player who had a more restful fortnight and whose strengths counter his own strengths effectively.

But the Canadian was extremely competitive, and the contrast in styles between Murray’s essentially baseline game and Pospisil’s attacking game made for some very entertaining points. He also had a game plan and clearly stuck to it, one that included cheeky drop-shot volleys that were difficult to execute against one of the fastest movers out there, but which often were successful.

“I felt like I played some good stuff. He served very well for periods of the match. I tried to change my return position end of the second, maybe make him think a little but mostly for myself, so I could see the serve a little bit better. It worked,” Murray said.

Secondly, Pospisil played pretty well, even if you could sort of see everything slowing down by the third set. The only time the Canadian had won back-to-back matches all season was back in January at the Australian Open. So the effort in London was a major step up.

Also worth noting was the low-key, calm (at least on the outside) way he went about his business on such a grand occasion. The Pospisil who got to the second Wednesday of Wimbledon “C’MON! LET’S GO! YEAH!”-ing his way through matches was composed, appropriately demonstrative but, above all, acted as though this centre-court gig wasn’t his first rodeo.

As legendary former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry once put it, once you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before. That’s what the 25-year-old from Vancouver did in his maiden visit. The key now is to build on all this and make it a regular appointment.