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New highs and challenges for Pospisil and Sock since Wimbledon

Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock celebrate after winning a point
by Michael Beattie
Wednesday 20 August 2014

The impact of Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil’s Gentlemen’s Doubles victory has continued beyond Wimbledon – both on court and off. The Canadian-American duo talk to Wimbledon.com about the impact of their Cinderella run to the title as they prepare to team up once more at the US Open.

Someday soon, Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil hope to find time to revel in their status as Wimbledon champions. The problem is, they’ve been too busy winning since then.

Eight weeks have passed since Pospisil tentatively agreed to partner Sock at The Championships on the proviso that the back injury that had blighted the first half of his season had fully healed. What followed was the stuff of screenplays – a run through the draw that saw the rookie duo meet and beat three of the top 10 seeds en route to the Gentlemen’s Doubles final, where they overcame 15-time Grand Slam champions Bob and Mike Bryan over five scintillating sets.

The Bryans gained some measure of revenge in Cincinnati, ending the duo’s unbeaten run ahead of the US Open. Still, no defeat could lift the sheen from their triumph at The Championships.

“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet, honestly,” Sock admitted in Washington, his third tournament in the month after Wimbledon. “I went straight from the Champions’ ball on Sunday night to Newport, played the next day, and was back training when I got home after that. I think when I finally have a couple of days off to not pick up a racket and have a rest, it will really sink in.”

The wait goes on. Since Wimbledon, Sock has risen to the cusp of the top 50 in the singles rankings; in his first three tournaments of the US hard-court summer, he lost out to the eventual champion. Twice that defeat came in the semi-finals – in Newport against Lleyton Hewitt, and again in Atlanta at the hands of John Isner – before a second-round exit in Washington against Milos Raonic. The Canadian dropped serve just once en route to the title – to Sock, who was left rueing a missed opportunity against the world No.6.

Nevertheless, Sock’s results since Wimbledon represent his best spell of the season, something he credits to his victory with Pospisil at The Championships. The 21-year-old admits the clip of his winning forehand on Championship point has been replayed “numerous times” on YouTube.

“Any time you can go through a tournament, especially a Grand Slam, playing through the second weekend and be one of the last guys in the locker room can only boost your confidence,” Sock said. “It wasn’t singles, which is our ultimate goal, but we went through a draw and played four top-10 teams. To be able to win against the best team of all time on Centre Court in the final has helped us both out.”

Now at a career-high No.55 in the world rankings, Sock is now in the reckoning to become the American No.2 behind Isner, along with Donald Young, Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey.

“One of my main goals was to get up there,” admits Sock, who hopes to do enough at the US Open to earn a Davis Cup debut in September’s World Group playoff with Slovakia. “Results put you on the team, so my goal for the summer is to keep playing well and hopefully make the team real soon.”

He also found time to extend his winning streak with Pospisil. The duo teamed up once more to claim the Atlanta Open doubles crown, beating Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson to lift the title. Their run to the final of the Western & Southern Open took their unbeaten record to 14 matches, a new record for a first-time partnership; Paul Annacone and Cristo Van Rensburg won 12 matches together between 1984 and 1985 before their first defeat.

Like his American counterpart, Pospisil’s feet have barely touched the ground long enough to bring him back down to earth since that incredible Saturday night at the All England Club.

“The first three or four days were pretty wild – kind of a fairy tale, a dream,” admitted the world No.27, who opened his hard court season in Bogota before joining Sock in Atlanta and Washington. “It seems almost like a distant memory right now, but I’m sure it will sink in sometime soon. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.”

The duo gained more than a Wimbledon title this summer. The Championships have forged a firm friendship between two players who previously shared little more than the occasional text message.

“Now? We’re best buds,” Pospisil beams. “We’re pretty much inseparable right now – we go to dinner together almost every night, we hang out in each other’s rooms. A great friendship was born from that experience. I think we’re pretty much bonded for life now.”

Off court, perhaps, but on court both players insist that singles remains their priority – in the long term at least. A week before the US Open they are sixth in the ATP’s Race to London rankings; there’s no denying the prospect of an appearance at the  ATP World Tour Finals is an enticing prospect.

But their mutual decision to focus on the singles draw in Washington spoke volumes about their priorities. As much success, and fun, as they are having in tandem, the focus remains on their solo performances.

“The main priority is singles, and it will be for my career,” Sock reiterated in Washington, while Pospisil admitted he needed the break from a heavy schedule. “I’ve played singles and doubles every week for several weeks now, and with Toronto coming up I needed to gather a bit of energy.”

Pospisil’s time since Wimbledon serves as something of a cautionary tale for the duo. Buoyed by his success, the 25-year-old reached his first ATP singles final in Washington, an all-Canadian affair won by Milos Raonic. But the strain of the previous weeks had taken their toll, both in the final and in his first-round match in Toronto. Struggling with a right leg injury he lost his opening match against Richard Gasquet and pulled out of the doubles.

“It's just a build-up of a lot of weeks in a row,” Pospisil admitted. “I played out of the whole European swing, clay and grass, without coming home, then Wimbledon. I didn't really have much of a break to go with family, take four days off or do something.”

It’s one of the hidden dangers of success in the sport – dealing with the increased volume of matches that come with each breakthrough. It’s a problem, but a problem that any player worth their salt hopes to face.

Should they consolidate their doubles ranking between now and the end of the season, The O2 beckons. In the meantime, having reached new heights on the singles scene, both men are focused on their next career milestone: capturing a maiden singles title.

“Being able to win matches back to back, and being able to do it week in, week out was one of my goals, but the ultimate breakthrough goal is to be winning the tournament,” Sock said. “It’s a process, I know that, and all these guys are really good, so it’s going to take a great week from me but hopefully it will happen.” 

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