Jack Sock interview
By Sandra Harwitt, special to USTA.com
WIMBLEDON, England – Around the grounds of Wimbledon on Saturday night, the talk of the town was that PopSock (Jack Sock) socked the Bryan brothers.
Yes, it was youth prevailing over experience in the men’s doubles final, where the first-time pairing of American Jack Sock and Canadian Vasek Pospisil shocked top seeds and defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan in a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, nail-biting encounter.
On a day when the two previous matches played on Centre Court lacked in drama – Petra Kvitova defeated Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3, 6-0, for the women’s title and Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci took care of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, 6-1, 6-3, in the women’s doubles final – the crowd was aching for a match to savor.
And that’s just what they got, as fans kept Centre Court packed from the first point until the last point of the three-hour, six-minute men’s doubles final. In the end, the Bryans saved four match points – two on Bob Bryans’ serve in the 10th game and two on Mike Bryans’ serve in the final game – before Sock cracked a winning forehand to secure the Wimbledon trophy.
It’s not that easy for a newbie team to come together on a grand stage like Wimbledon and end up carting home the trophy. The last first-time team to do the deed was Lleyton Hewitt and Max Mirnyi at the 2000 US Open.
“It was a pretty, obviously, surreal week-and-a-half for us in the doubles,” said the 21-year-old Sock, who won the 2011 US Open mixed doubles trophy with Melanie Oudin. “Sorry, but honestly I don’t have words. Obviously, I’m so thankful. To be my second Grand Slam title and to do it here at Wimbledon is unbelievable.”
The Wimbledon victory is, without a doubt, a step up for Sock, whose only other men’s doubles trophy came at the 2013 Delray Beach tournament with James Blake.
There’s no denying that Sock's and Pospisil’s run to the title was pretty heady territory for the duo, especially in capping off their success with a stunning five-set victory against the most illustrious doubles team in history.
But before they even stared at the Bryans, the duo had to bypass some very tough talent. They defeated four seeded teams to go the distance: eighth seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, in the second round; second seeds Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, in the quarterfinals; and fifth seeds Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals, before taking down the Bryans.
“Our road here was pretty crazy,” Sock said. “I think before, if we had known that was our path, I don’t know how certain we’d be that we’d be sitting here right now. We gelled really well together, clicked well at the right times and were able to come out on top at the end of the two weeks.”
Many fans probably expected the Bryans to cash in on playing an unseeded team that had already done great damage in the draw. And it wouldn’t be wrong to anticipate that Sock and Pospisil would be nervous in their first outing on Wimbledon’s revered Centre Court, not to mention playing against the greatest team ever to play the game.
But the Bryans knew better that untested teams frequently rise to the occasion.
“The honeymoon period is sometimes tough to stop,” Bob said. “We faced it many times. Guys playing together the first time are really excited. They have great runs. Everything is fresh and new.”
For the Bryans, who have captured 15 Grand Slam trophies, the hope was to win their 99th career title on Sunday, but wishes aren’t always granted. The match will be one of those oddities for the Bryans, one they will not forget playing and will consider special to be a part of, despite walking away with the loss.
“It was obviously a tough one to lose and a great match all the way around,” Mike said.
Bob chimed in with a similar sentiment, saying, “It was so hotly contested that it’s a bad feeling you lost, but when you look back on it, you’ll be happy to know you were a part of that.”
The victory makes Sock, who is 21 years, 285 days old, the third youngest man in the Open era to have ownership of a Grand Slam men’s doubles and mixed doubles title. That puts him in some very fine company, as he joins John McEnroe and Todd Woodbridge, who were both younger when they achieved that distinction.
Pospisil and Sock were stoking on their serves throughout the match, and there was no doubt that having the roof closed from the outdoor elements only helped make their serving even more potent.
The Canadian-American tandem put up 27 aces to 15 for the Bryans, and they only double faulted five times to the brothers’ 11. The Bryans broke serve on two of four occasions, while Pospisil and Sock were successful on three of 10 offerings, but what is surprising in this statistic is that the top seeds gave their opponents so many opportunities to challenge their serve.
While there wouldn’t be a fourth Wimbledon title for the Bryans, at least not yet, their plan is to regroup and come back strong for the Emirates Airline US Open Series on hard courts. Not only are they hoping to score their first Grand Slam trophy of the season at the US Open, but they wouldn’t be adverse to improving their title tally to a nice round 100.
“When you put yourself in these big title matches and you don’t come out on top, they sting,” Mike said. “We’ve been in 26 Grand Slam finals; we’ve lost 11 of them. You know, those are daggers. But we usually bounce back. It’s going to motivate us to go hit the gym. And you can’t win them all.”
The Bryans might have already been talking a return to the gym, but all Sock was thinking about was what he was going to do on Saturday night.
“I’m going to bed in like 20 minutes. That’s my plan,” he said.
And undoubtedly Sock will spend the night dreaming about the not very technical strategy he claimed to use in becoming the 2014 Wimbledon doubles champion.
“Just swinging with my eyes closed and hoping it goes in,” he laughed.