Cabal/Farah’s ‘Dream Come True’ At Wimbledon 2019
Colombians reflect on their first Grand Slam title run
“We won Wimbledon! Can you believe it?,” Farah asked Cabal while they were locked in the most emotional embrace of their sporting lives.
“You’d better believe it because we just did it!,” answered Cabal, still not completely aware of what he was saying.
The quick exchange between Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, moments after defeating Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in a four-hour and 57-minute final, perfectly sums up the Colombians’ achievement when they won their first Grand Slam title in July 2019. Neither of them could quite grasp the magnitude of what they had just done on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
"We were in shock,” said Cabal. "It was pure joy, ecstasy. It was a dream come true, a goal we had been pursuing for a long time. But in that moment, when we did it, we didn’t really understand the impact of our achievement.”
With a backhand cross-court volley, Farah sealed a 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-3 victory that made the pair the first Colombian team to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title. After that point, they both fell to the ground. They were both laughing nervously. They got up amid the applause, hugged each other and then asked themselves if what they were experiencing was real.
Their disbelief came from the fact that they had forged a path through a very demanding draw. The pair had to survive an 11-9 fifth-set in their quarter-final against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. But it was also because they did not think their first Grand Slam title would come at Wimbledon, on their least favourite surface.
"We thought we were more likely to win our first major at Roland Garros, because it’s on clay, which suits us best,” said Farah.
"But the good result in Paris really gave us a boost for the grass swing,” said Cabal. "And winning our first title on the surface in Eastbourne gave us enormous confidence."
Even so, their surprise at fulfilling their dream at SW19 was inevitable. Not only did they win the only Grand Slam event where they had never before made it to the quarter-finals, they also climbed to the top of the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
“That made it much more unforgettable. It was a double triumph,” said Farah. “That day, for the first time, we achieved both our goals, that’s why it will be special for the rest of our careers.”
But it would take two days until the impact of their win, particularly in Colombia, would completely sink in.
"I remember that we were at the club until very late, and then we went to our friends’ house to celebrate,” said Farah. "But the president [of Colombia, Iván Duque] wanted us to be in Bogota on Monday to receive an award so we had to go to the airport early. We didn’t have time to celebrate.”
When they got to Colombia, greeted by a packed crowd, they found more clues as to what they had achieved. A large part of the country — where the most popular sports are football and cycling — had come to a standstill after their achievement.
“When I saw the welcome from the people, I thought ‘Wow, what has happened here?’ We never imagined that our title could have caused such euphoria in Colombia,” said Cabal.
Once they were home, they were finally able to celebrate. But two weeks later they were competing again in Washington, with their ambition intact.
“We are still the same, working just as hard. Winning Wimbledon made us hungry for more titles,” said Farah.
But it was on the lawns of Wimbledon where they sewed the seeds of their greatness.