Nikolas Mektic and Mate Pavic became the first Croatian pair to win The Gentlemen’s Doubles Championships at Wimbledon when they outplayed Marcel Granollers of Spain and his Argentine partner, Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-6(5) 2-6 7-5.
This is something special, this is by far the best tournament in the world Mate Pavec
The top seeds were delighted at becoming the first all-Croatian partnership to succeed at Wimbledon 20 years after their national hero Goran Ianisevic had picked up the singles crown on a wildcard ticket!
They had a long wait to get their final underway with Ash Barty requiring three sets for her historic singles win and the women’s doubles going to 6-7 in the third before they could get on court early evening.
They eventually secured the winning point on Centre Court at 10.20pm under floodlights.
“That ball falling long in the last point was the best feeling of my life,” Mektic, who was contesting his first major final with Pavic, said with a laugh.
“The last three matches we played were the best of my life,” an emotional Pavic added trying hard to control his voice.
“This is something special. We all grew up with Goran, it’s been 20 years now since he won that Monday final, and this is the first time since Croatia is winning another trophy here. I know it’s doubles but still it’s Wimbledon. I am super happy.”
The Croatian pair are this season’s dominant doubles combination so it wasn’t surprising that they lived up to their reputation though they were made to work for the trophy.
They first put their fourth seeded opponents under pressure by claiming the seventh game of the opener before serving out in the 10th.
With no break forthcoming in the second, Mektic and Pavic finally increased their lead by claiming the tie-break on their first set point but in the third, Granolleres and Zeballos managed to slow down the Croatian bandwagon.
They stormed into a 4-0 lead and pushed the match into a fourth set only for their fight-back to fizzle out.
The Croats had their first match point in the 10th game of the fourth but failed to convert. They were however successful two games later when, after three unsuccessful attempts to put the ball away with smashes, a running forehand error from the Spanish-Argentine duo handed the Croatians a well-deserved victory and their eighth title of the season.
Mektic was over the moon. “It was an incredible match today again. The last three matches that we played, it was probably the best three matches of my life, the best three matches that I ever participated in.”
The pair had to come from two sets down in the quarterfinals against the seasoned Polish/Brazilian pairing of Kubot & Melo and survived a very strong challenge from Britain’s Joe Salisbury and America’s Rajeev Ram in the semis.
Pavic, who has won at Grand slam level before with different partners at the Australian (2018) and US (2020) Opens, was partnering Mektic for the first time this year, said: “This is something special, this is by far the best tournament in the world.
“Especially for me and I think for Nikola also, we all grew up with Goran.”
The pair will be representing the nation at the Olympics and will arrive in Tokyo as clear favourites for the Doubles Gold.
“We are very confident,” Pavic said. “The schedule is not the best, but I think we have a good chance. We are one of the favorites there. The way we played, I think there would be a good chance for us.”