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Canada's Vasek Pospisil returns to Serbia's Viktor Troicki during their men's singles fourth round matchJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP / Getty Images

Cathal Kelly is covering Wimbledon from London until the end of the tournament.

The bravest day in Canada's long history of grand slam tennis began at 8 a.m.

Vasek Pospisil woke up and began what he shyly refers to as "doing some things that I have been working on" – that is, writing in the motivational diary he consults during breaks here at Wimbledon. He begins every day with this small, contemplative moment.

By nightfall, he'd have played 10 sets over two grinding matches, reached the quarter-finals in singles, narrowly lost a fractious doubles match and made himself this country's newest tennis icon.

In all, the 25-year-old from Vancouver played for six hours on Monday. He trailed his opponents for roughly five of them. If Canada tends to fall for underdogs, few have hit the country with quite as much romantic force.

After working in his notebook – something he talks about evasively, calling it "a secret" – Mr. Pospisil had breakfast. He was at the All-England Club by 9:15 a.m., long before most of the competitors. He stretched and hit lightly on a practice court.

Throughout the Wimbledon fortnight, they publish a calendar of each day's notable events. Mr. Pospisil didn't rate a mention. At 11:30, shortly after the first spectators came scurrying in, he arrived on far-flung Court 12.

He faced seeded veteran Viktor Troicki. Mr. Pospisil was lower ranked, had never been in this spot and had played 21 sets during the previous week, many of them while behind. Mr. Troicki held every advantage.

But once it started, there was little dividing the pair. The Serb capitalized on isolated mental errors – one nervous service game, a lob left to drift overhead and in during a tiebreak – to take a two-sets-to-none lead.

At each break, Mr. Pospisil checked his little blue notebook. He won't say what's in there – another "secret." He was willing to concede that he reads only one page during play. It contains "reminders and pointers." It wasn't helping.

Another thing he had never done – come from two sets down to win a match at a grand slam. He'd never done any of the things most top players have. Until he did.

Trailing in the third set, he backed up on his opponent's serve. The small adjustment undid the Serb.

"Right now, I don't really know what happened," Mr. Troicki mumbled later.

His serve was already in top form, but now Mr. Pospisil was breaking his opponent with regularity. By the end, what had been a largely neutral crowd was shrieking in his support. Mr. Pospisil finished the fight-back with authority, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Afterward, he drifted toward the spectators. Not quite sure what to do, he began shaking hands. People streamed out of the stands, anxious for physical contact. Mr. Pospisil welcomed them all. One dazzled fan patted his pockets, looking for some paper to get signed. All he had was money. Mr. Pospisil autographed it.

It was now shortly before 3 p.m.

Mr. Pospisil returned to the players' area. He rode a stationary bike, drank energy shakes and took an ice bath. An hour later, he was fit to function again.

At 4:30, he was back on Court 12 along with doubles partner Jack Sock. The defending Wimbledon champions faced Australian John Peers and the British royal tennis family's spare, Jamie Murray.

Once again, it started out miserably. Mr. Pospisil looked ragged. Mr. Sock wasn't any better. They were down two sets quickly and fading from the third.

In the crucial tiebreak, a small commotion: A hard Sock volley clipped Mr. Peers's racket on the way out of bounds. The code of tennis suggests you put your hand up and admit the fault. Mr. Peers did not. Mr. Pospisil and Mr. Sock flipped out. They began to berate the chair umpire, who said he hadn't seen it. They screamed over at their opponents, who did their best to appear invisible.

"Feels good, does it?" Mr. Pospisil sneered at Mr. Peers, who stared into space. Mr. Sock looked as if he might go over the net. Fans began to boo the foreigners.

"Just play!" someone shouted.

"Here's a racquet," Mr. Sock shot back.

It was closer to bedlam than Wimbledon is used to (so … not that close).

Renewed by a sense of injustice, the raging pair heaved themselves back into the match. They won the tie-break. They dominated the fourth set. It tightened in the fifth.

As Mr. Pospisil prepared to serve during the final game, someone yelled, "Come on, North America!"

The crowd was still laughing after the point ended. The ill will disappeared, but it didn't spur the recipients. After five hours and 58 minutes of total match play, Mr. Pospisil was finally defeated, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 3-6, 8-6.

In what may have been the most sporting moment of a very long, very sporting day, he amiably shook hands with Mr. Peers and Mr. Murray.

At 9 p.m., as the sun faded and the courts emptied, Mr. Pospisil was introduced to the press. He said he was tired. He didn't look it. He looked wired. He looked like he knew he'd just done something special.

The second Monday is a big deal at Wimbledon, famous for featuring every big name in competition. Serena beat Venus. Nick Kyrgios had a front-page-worthy meltdown. Novak Djokovic was just barely in it against an unknown. Roger Federer Roger-Federered.

The papers here won't mention Mr. Pospisil's big day in Tuesday's editions, except to note that Andy Murray is his next opponent.

But back home, we know. We'll remember.

This was the remarkable day Vasek Pospisil went from being a name we recognize to a face we might never forget.