James Ward and Vasek Pospisil
Ward fell short in his attempts to reach a first ever grand slam fourth round. Getty Images

James Ward produced a valiant effort before succumbing to Canadian Vasek Pospisil in a five-set thriller in the third round at Wimbledon.

The British wildcard led by two sets to one before the reigning men's doubles champion produced a serving masterclass to prevail 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-3 8-6.

Pospisil will face Viktor Troicki in the fourth round while Ward will reflect upon a best-ever grand slam performance ahead of Great Britain's Davis Cup quarter-final tie against France.

"It was a really tough match," Pospisil said. "James is obviously a really good player and the conditions were tough playing the crowd as well.

"I've made my first fourth round so I am super happy right now but I am really thrilled with the way I ended the match.

"I was trying to stay composed and stay focused on my routines and hang in there and wait for my opportunities and stay positive."

In his maiden grand slam third round encounter, Ward was faced with what could be regarded as a presentable task of knocking out Pospisil to reach the second week at the All England Club.

Ranked 56 in the world the Canadian might have been but he was also a reigning grand slam champion at Wimbledon, having won the men's doubles alongside American Jack Sock in 2014.

Despite Ward's Davis Cup exploits for Great Britain, it was therefore Pospisil who looked the more accomplished on the big stage and that experience showed in the opening exchanges as the 25-year-old broke for a 4-2 lead.

Ward struggled to build any momentum on the Pospisil serve and that ensured the right-hander stormed into a first set lead without having to break sweat as the home favourite toiled.

But Ward found a foothold at the start of the second set with an early break for a 3-0 lead, a position that could have been improve had Pospisil not saved going a double-break behind.

The Briton would not be denied squaring the match as he wrestled away the authority from Pospisil, who had become passive and error-strewn in his ground-strokes, which lacked the punch of the opening set.

And that momentum swing would continue into the third set as Ward, the world number 101, blew away Pospisil in emphatic fashion with two breaks to clinch it 6-2 to go within touching distance of an elusive fourth round.

Pospisil responded by recapturing his form from the opening set as a series of delicate shots at the net exposed Ward and opened up a 4-1 lead as the match ticked over the two-hour mark.

The London-born Ward served to stay in the set but Pospisil levelled the match at the first time of asking as his metronomic serving game again came to the fore.

At the start of the decider both players exchanged five service games without a single break point being offered with neither individual offering a glimmer for their opponent.

While Ward was offering sporadic moments of hope, Pospisil had a vice-like grip on proceedings on his serve, conceding just two points in his six service games as the match entered the sudden-death tiebreak.

It would be that consistency which would eventually see Pospisil become the fourth Canadian player to reach the last 16 of the men's draw as he broke Ward for the final time before serving his way into the second week.