Photo Credit: Andrew Cowie/AFP
At the first of the year, if I were to have named the Canadian tennis player least likely to win a Wimbledon championship in 2014, I would have picked Vasek Pospisil – not because I don’t believe in his immense talent (more on that below), but because he was injured to the point where I was scared that his career was in jeopardy. He had injured his back in a tournament in India, then hobbled himself further at the Australian Open. From that point on, it was a game of hit and miss tennis from tournament to tournament right through the spring of the hard court season, the entire clay season and into the grass season. The incredible inroads he had made in 2013 were in danger of being completely wiped out. He looked defeated, in pain and completely bummed out. Then Jack Sock came calling.
When I heard that the two of them would be playing together, I thought it would be a good chance for Vasek to get some much needed games under his belt because he had played very little for months. As they started to knock off much more seasoned and experienced teams – those who played doubles tennis for a living instead of singles tennis, I knew that they had combined to create something very special. Vasek is more than adequate in doubles, given his experience playing doubles for Canada in Davis Cup and squeaking out fifth set victories with Daniel Nestor, so I knew that this team (playing together for the very first time) had a shot to go deep in the draw.
It was when Vasek and Jack got to within a match of playing Daniel and Nenad Zimonjic that I knew that they were on a roll. If Nestor and Zimonjic hadn’t lost their quarterfinal, they would have played Vasek and Jack in the semifinals and it would have guaranteed a Canadian in the final. I would have been happy with that result. As it turned out, it was almost a surreal march to the final and ultimately to the Wimbledon championship as Vasek and Jack (unseeded) took out the 8th, 2nd, 5th and 1st seeded teams in succession to take the title.
There was something about the Vasek/Jack team that brought out the very best in them. They used this aura of complete enjoyment and carefree tennis that surrounded them to play surreal tennis, as if they were playing in a bubble and no other team could beat them. It wasn’t cockiness. It was just plain old carefree, stress-less, two young guys out to play a game in the park kind of tennis that was refreshing and fun to watch. It was infectious. You could tell by the way the crowd reacted to their playing style that they were enjoying themselves just by playing carefree tennis.
They complement each other very well. Off the court, Vasek is as likeable a guy as you can find anywhere. On the court, he wants to win, but is level-headed and doesn’t let things bother him too much. Jack is a hothead, but this is tempered by Vasek’s calming personality. Oil and water do mix.
Ever since I first saw him play in 2010, I pegged Vasek to be a big tennis star. He has all the goods: the right attitude, immense talent, the drive, the competence, the physical attributes, the personality and the looks to be a popular Top 10 star. The stars are all aligned in his favour – and he’s Canadian. While Milos Raonic has made a deliberate climb up the rankings, I can see Vasek’s talent taking him to a more explosive height than Raonic. If he only stays healthy, he can be as big as he wants to be. If that doesn’t work out, there’s always doubles.
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