Matt Ebden and Max Purcell dug deep to join some of the greats of Australian tennis as Wimbledon men’s doubles champions. Two days after saving five match points in the semi-final, Ebden and Purcell battled for four hours, 11 minutes on Saturday to defeat Croatia’s defending champions Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-2) in an equally epic title match.
Runners-up to Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Australian Open doubles final in January, Ebden and Purcell are the first Australians to reign at the All England Club since Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge won the last of their six Wimbledon crowns 22 years ago. Victory for Ebden also went some way towards atoning for his mixed doubles final defeat with veteran Samantha Stosur on Thursday.
It was no surprise that Ebden and Purcell could barely believe it when they raised their trophies to rapturous applause on tennis’s most famous centre court after pulling off victory. As well as fighting off five match points in the third set of their semi-final against top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, the dynamic duo also fended off three match points in their tournament opener against Ben McLachlan and Andre Goransson.
“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’s that?”
While the spectacular triumph earned Purcell his maiden grand slam title, it was No 2 for Ebden, who teamed with Jarmila Gajdosova to take out the Australian Open mixed in 2013. Ebden graciously paid tribute to the vanquished No 2 seeds after Pavić played the entire final with a broken right hand following injury in the semis.
“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,” Ebden 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. Hopefully we have some more incredibly great battles with you guys and I can’t believe it.”