After Gabriela Dabrowski lost the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon with partner Yifan Xu, disappointment was etched on her face.
Back in Ottawa, though, a childhood coach remained sure that the athletic, focused and “very grounded” Dabrowski would rebound and earn another shot at a Grand Slam women’s doubles title in no time.
“I know she was very disappointed, but I think she’ll be back at another one and get one soon,” said Tony Milo, who continues to coach young local players and manages Carleton University’s tennis dome.
“She’s certainly going to have her chance again.”
Seeded No. 4 at Wimbledon, Dabrowski and Xu, from China, lost in straight sets (6-2, 6-4) to t hird seeds Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan and Barbora Strýcová of the Czech Republic in a match that lasted just over an hour.
It had been originally scheduled for Saturday, but was pushed back an extra day because of the extended men’s doubles final, and it was delayed a few more hours when the men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer also went five sets .
Dabrowski, 27, and Xu will both receive about $221,000 in prize money for reaching the women’s doubles final. Hsieh and Strýcová both received double that amount.
Milo said he thought Dabrowski and Xu couldn’t get any momentum on their side on Sunday.
Any player would like be “a little bit nervous” at Wimbledon, the highest of high-stakes tennis, he added.
“It doesn’t get any better than that. That’s what all the kids always dream about,” Milo said. “It’s a very special tournament. It’s something that she’s always dreamt about, to be there.”
There was something different about Dabrowski from her very first lesson with him at age seven, Milo said, and it made him want to develop as a coach.
“It’s still fresh,” he said. “She was an inspiration to me just working with her. She was always so focused on the court and worked hard and went home and worked on it with her dad at the park.”
Dabrowski’s parents, Wanda and Yurek, said on Sunday only that “we are very proud of Gaby.”
Other fans took to social media to praise Dabrowski as a “Canadian tennis star” with grit and grace.
“But what a run for Gaby and Julie! Onward and upward from here,” Tennis Canada tweeted after Dabrowki’s first Grand Slam women’s doubles final, calling it an “entertaining match” in which the pair fell just short.
“So proud of you,” tweeted Stéphanie Dubois, who was twice named Tennis Canada’s female player of the year before retiring in 2014.
“Many more opportunities to come, keep your head high!”
While Sunday’s match marked the first Grand Slam women’s doubles final for Dabrowski, she previously won mixed doubles titles at the French Open in 2017 with Rohan Bopanna of India and the Australian Open in 2018 with Mate Pavic of Croatia.
A 2016 Olympian as well, Dabrowski remains Canada’s only female Grand Slam tennis champion. Toronto’s Daniel Nestor won a dozen titles in men’s and mixed doubles, while Montreal’s Sébastien Lareau and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil claimed one each in men’s doubles.
Dabrowski and Pavic also made it to the mixed doubles finals of the French Open in 2018 and 2019 and to the third round of Wimbledon this year as well. That result was worth another $3,500 in earnings.
Dabrowski had yet to react publicly to the loss by Sunday evening, but her determination seemed clear a year ago, when the City of Ottawa named the Russell Boyd Park courts where she first learned to play in her honour, but only after she insisted that the courts were repaired first.
“So much blood, sweat and tears have been shed on this court, and it’s pretty remarkable that I’m still here years later,” Dabrowski told this newspaper. “I practised on this court two days ago. It feels the same, just like I’m here, trying to get better.”
With files from Gord Holder
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019