SA Coach Jeff Coetzee wins his Grand Slam


In their 31st Grand Slam appearance as a team, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah became the first Colombian players to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title on Saturday at Wimbledon.

The second seeds defeated Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-3 to lift their first major trophy after four hours and 57 minutes, extending their tour-level winning streak to 10 matches. Before claiming their maiden grass-court tour-level title at the Nature Valley International last month, Cabal and Farah had never earned more than two straight tour-level match wins on the surface as a team.

“For Colombia, it’s huge… We just won Wimbledon for Colombia,” said Cabal. “It’s huge. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s huge for our country. I hope everybody enjoys us.”

The Colombian pairing, which improves to 34-10 this season, has now clinched four tour-level crowns this season following title runs in Barcelona, Rome and Eastbourne. Cabal and Farah own 15 team trophies from 31 championship matches.

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In their maiden Wimbledon quarter-final on Tuesday, Cabal and Farah were forced to save five match points against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. The all-Colombian team was appearing in its second Grand Slam championship match after falling in straight sets to Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the 2018 Australian Open final.

In a final dominated by serve, each of the opening four sets needed tie-breaks to decide the outcome. Sharp reactions earned the French pairing a one-set lead, with Roger-Vasselin coming out on top in a net duel against Farah before firing a forehand return at Cabal’s laces to seal the opening set.

Cabal and Farah continued to pressure the 11th seeds, rallying from 0/3 and 3/5 down in the second and third-set tie-breaks to move within touching distance of the title. After three hours and 34 minutes, Mahut and Roger-Vasselin gained the first service break of the match to move into a 3-1 lead in the fourth set and, despite dropping serve in the following game, the French team forced a decider after converting its third set point.

After a brief delay to allow the Centre Court roof to close ahead of the final set, it was Cabal and Farah who made the faster start upon the resumption of play. The Colombians found their timing on return in a marathon fourth game, breaking serve on their fifth break point with powerful play from the baseline.

But Cabal and Farah could not consolidate the break, as Roger-Vasselin fired a forehand return winner into the corner to earn the opportunity to serve at 2-3. But the second seeds soon regained their advantage in the eighth game, focussing their attack on Mahut at the net with power from the baseline. Cabal and Farah recovered from 0/30 down in the final game to take the title, converting their first championship point as Farah fired a sharp-angled backhand volley winner. Both players collapsed to the turf in celebration and soon climbed towards the players’ box in celebration.

“Once you’re [at] 4-3 and you break, you know you [have] got to hold once and you’re champion of Wimbledon… [Juan Sebastian] showed his courage, showed his emotions, how calm he is… Pure joy,” said Farah.

Mahut and Roger-Vasselin were aiming to become the third all-French pair in the Open Era to win the men’s doubles title at Wimbledon by winning their first Grand Slam trophy as a team. The French pairing defeated three-time winners Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan and 2017 titlists Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in four sets en route to the final.

Cabal and Farah receive 2000 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split £540,000 in prize money. Mahut and Roger-Vasselin gain 1200 points and share £270,000.

“Once we come back to the court, I seriously had a second wind. I felt so good again. I feel like we played unreal that fifth set. We really got our returns in [and] put the pressure [on],” said Cabal. “To do this for Colombia… it’s just crazy. I mean, to be part of it is just amazing.”

Meanwhile the coach of Cabal/Farah South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee said he was delighted with the win and felt like it was the Grand Slam he never won. “I played the tour for many years and was close to winning a Slam but never did so this feels like the Slam I never one. ”
Coetzee said he always has believed that his Colombians would win a Grand Slam. “Rob and Juan Sebastien are a real good team. they have incredible talent and work ethic and are ultra professional. I knew we were close to winning a Grand Slam but never thought Wimbledon would be the one HOWEVER after they won on the grass in Eastbourne before Wimbledon I felt they had the game on grass and confidence on grass to do something special at Wimbledon.”

Team Cabal/Farah touring Physiotherapist Jayson Mathiou agreed with Coetzee. “The boys can be proud of how they conducted themselves on court. I also have said that their best chances of victory is when they go out firing and keep the intensity up from start to finish. We have been working so hard on their fitness and intensity and on Saturday it played a big role. I am honoured to work with Rob and Sebas and manage their health and performance.”

Did You Know?
This is the sixth consecutive Grand Slam event where the men’s doubles champions have been won by a pair of players from the same nation.