Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
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Whatever the result of the men’s doubles final, one thing was sure from the outset: a win would herald a new team of Grand Slam champions - and after a marathon 4 hours and 39 minutes of intense serve-dominated play, it was the No.4 seeds, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who overcame the valiant No.16 seeds, Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, to celebrate with can-can kicks, horizontal slumps to the turf, and the traditional clamber up to the players’ box to share the joy of victory.
The 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(2), 3-6, 13-11 scoreline takes longer to type than the sudden turn of events in which the Polish-Brazilian team earned themselves three Championship points on the Pavic serve in the 70th game of the contest.
It took just seven points won from the eight played after the match resumed - following a 10-minute suspension to allow the Centre Court roof to close - for the scurrying Kubot and the long-limbed Melo to consolidate their tremendous grass-court streak of wins with the ultimate success, their first Grand Slam title together.
“I said to Lukasz before the match, ‘Man, I did everything on my life to be here in this court. I want to enjoy as much as I can. I reached the final once before [with Ivan Dodig, losing to the Bryan brothers in 2013], but now I want to win, and I can do it,’” said Melo.
“After they closed the roof it was perfect for us, especially to break him love-40. The energy was so high, the atmosphere on court unbelievable. No words to describe.”
Prior to arriving in London SW19, they had the perfect build-up in winning their first grass-court titles as a team at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Halle, having also won on the hard courts of Miami and the clay of Madrid. This, their fifth title of 2017, concluded under the gaze of Royal Box guests who had been offered purple blankets to allow them to settle in for the classic Wimbledon late-night doubles thriller.
Right to the end, Marach and Pavic, making only their second appearance together at a major tournament, met them serve for serve and provided entertaining ricochet play at the net. But it is Kubot and Melo who now command recognition as the 14th different team to win the men’s doubles title in the last 16 majors. With this win, Melo will return to the No. 1 ranking in men's doubles on Monday.
Effort, at every stage, characterised their victory. Having failed to convert two championship points in the 12th game of the deciding set, they remained resolute until three whistling returns earnt them three more potential match-clinchers.
Simply to reach the final, they had had to dig deep to emerge victorious from three epic five-set matches, including their semi-final win over top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers.
“I think the key was to keep mentally strong, especially after we stopped to close the roof," Melo said "We needed to be prepared to come back and fight how we did. Even when we missed those two match points before, we could still fight. The mental battle was good for us today. I think the last three matches we did best-of-five here was helpful. I told Lukasz, It’s just another one, we got through three already, so we are ready to go through another one.”
With Kubot succeeding in his 12th attempt, and Melo in his 11th, the pair also enter the list for most attempts before winning the doubles title at Wimbledon in the Open era (nestling in under Daniel Nestor on 14).
Since the Bryan brothers monopolised the men’s doubles scene, winning four consecutive Grand Slam doubles titles (2012 US Open to 2013 Wimbledon), few pairings have looked like matching them for consistency: only the Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut (2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon) and Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares (2016 Australian Open, 2016 US Open) have won multiple Grand Slam doubles titles. Victory today marks both Kubot’s and Melo’s second Grand Slam title (Kubot won the 2014 Australian Open with Robert Lindstedt; Melo won the 2015 French Open with Ivan Dodig).
As proven doubles specialists, this Wimbledon triumph could be the start of an enduring partnership. But for now, it was about enjoying the moment. “I have to say Wimbledon is Wimbledon, the tournament I dream about since I was young,” smiled Melo. “I said many times this year my main focus was to play the best here. I did all the preparations to play the best here. I'm really glad to be able to do it.”