If ever there was a bonus prize for endurance at Wimbledon, then newly crowned men’s doubles champions Matthew Ebden, 34 and Max Purcell, 10 years his junior, would surely win it.
I thought we were out of here first round,We were love-40 down in the fifth, three match points, and then we just won Wimbledon — how good is that? Max Purcell
Their remarkable run to victory was marked with attrition throughout, and rendered this unlikely duo, who came into The Championships as 14th seeds, a title few, in particular those who followed the almost 20 hours of tennis they played during the fortnight, thought they could achieve.
Five of the six matches they played went to five sets. In two of those, they came back from two sets down to make the next round and their incredible journey saw them save eight match points along the way, five of them in their semi-final victory over former Australian and US Open doubles champions, Rejeev Ram and Britain’s Joe Salisbury.
Apart from overcoming top seeds Ram and Salisbury, they defeated three other higher seeded pairings, including second seeds and defending champions, Croatia’s Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, in the final.
In victory, they became the first Aussie duo since ‘the Woodies’ – Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde – to take the title back ‘Down Under’ since 2000!
No wonder they both collapsed in unison to the ground after winning their final match point.
Mektic and Pavic came into the final looking for their 24th consecutive match victory on grass. They were looking to create a little bit of history themselves by becoming the first team to defend a Wimbledon doubles title since Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic way back in 2009.
Their journey to the final was similarly hard earned, their 54-game semi-final win, which included 3 tie breaks, over Colombians Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah was achieved after a mammoth four hours and 22-minutes on court.
Not only that, but Pavic, astonishingly, then went on to play the entire final with a broken bone in his right hand, an injury sustained in his marathon semi.
Ebden acknowledged the fact in his post-match interview.
“It was incredible from these guys. They’ve been the No.1 team the last couple of years and they almost beat us with an injury,” he said. “We’re very lucky to win and that just shows how great a team they are. Even with a big problem, they still just about won Wimbledon.”
As the debate continues as to whether to reduce doubles matches in Grand Slams from five sets to three, the authorities might well wish to take into account this year’s Ebdon/Purcell story, a story littered with unbelievable endurance and unexpected comebacks, similar to those that so many of us have witnessed over the years.
Indeed, without best of five, we would have had different Grand Slam winners this year, as Matthew Ebden explained.
“I thought we were out of here first round,” Purcell said. “We were love-40 down in the fifth, three match points, and then we just won Wimbledon — how good is that?”
The ladies final, the last match of The Championships to be played on Centre Court following Novak Djokovic’s incredible 7th Wimbledon title success, was won for the second time by the Czech pairing, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, seeded two, who defeated the top seeds Elise Mertens and Zhang Shuai, 6-2, 6-4. It was the first time that the two top seeded doubles pairings had contested the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon since 2015.
Krejcikova and Siniakova’s win earned them their 5th Grand Slam career doubles title, and their second this year, following their victory at the Australian Open in January.
26-year-old Krejcikova is no stranger to Grand Slam success in singles either, having won the ladies title at Roland Garros last year. But this latest doubles success was extra special to her, for one reason only.
“In the box, finally, for the first time, my parents came to watch me. I actually had to beg them to come here because they thought they were going to bring me bad luck.”
That didn’t happen. The Czechs dominated proceedings against Belgian Mertens, 26 and her 33-year-old partner, China’s Zhang Shuai, gaining an early break in the first set to lead 3-0. From there, they never looked back, winning the last eight points from 4-4 in the second set, to take the title.
“It was very special,” continued Krejcikova. “I have a lot of emotions right now. I was really just looking forward to playing such a big match on Centre Court.”
In the mixed doubles, there was success for Britain’s Neal Skupski who, with American Desirae Krawcyzk, retained their Wimbledon mixed doubles title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Australian duo, the aforementioned Matthew Ebden and his seasoned, 38-year-old partner Sam Stosur.
Their 72 years of experience was not enough to overcome their Anglo-American opponents, who, in victory, become the first pair to defend the title since Czech duo Cyril Suk and Helena Sukova, way back in 1997 when Ebden was just 9 and Stosur 13!