By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah became the first Colombians to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title when they beat France’s Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-3 in a near five-hour epic at Wimbledon on Saturday.
Farah punched away a backhand volley winner on match point before promptly collapsing to the ground in triumph.
“I’m speechless. I kept watching the watch through the first and second set. I’m like: ‘We finished the second set and it’s been two hours and 15 minutes play. This is ridiculous. How long is this?’” said Farah.
“From there on, we just kept battling. Once we lost the fourth set… I put my legs up, I got a rub from my physio.
“We come back to the court, I had a second wind. I felt so good again. I feel like we played unreal that (fifth) set.”
Cabal, who will rise to the top of the doubles rankings when the new list is released on Monday, added: “We just won Wimbledon for Colombia. It’s huge for our country. The moment we’re living right now is just crazy.”
The defeat capped a painful evening for Mahut as he rolled around the turf early on in the contest after taking a blow to his eye. For a few minutes, it was uncertain if the Frenchman would be able to continue as he was helped to his courtside chair before medics examined the injury and checked his vision.
He came back on court after taking a medical time-out and did not appear to suffer any lingering after-effects as he was soon up a set.
Mahut, who had won the full complement of Grand Slam men’s doubles titles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert before being dumped by his fellow Frenchman earlier this year, looked like he could be walking off with his second Wimbledon crown as he and Roger-Vasselin produced some high-quality winners to level the match at two sets all.
But another brutal body blow in the eighth game of the decider left Mahut writhing in pain on the green turf and Cabal and Farah showed little sympathy as they pounced to break for a 5-3 lead.
Mahut is no stranger to Wimbledon marathons having come off second best in the longest ever Grand Slam singles match, an 11-hour-five-minute first-round tussle won by American John Isner in 2010.
While the Colombians clambered up the stands to celebrate with their nearest and dearest, Mahut consoled Roger-Vasselin who was crying into his towel as he struggled to come to terms with the near miss.
At four hours 57 minutes, it fell just four minutes short of the longest ever men’s doubles final won by John McEnroe and Michael Stich in 1992.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Fallon)