Wimbledon – Murray tames Djokovic to end 77 years of British hurt
Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion with a 6-4 7-5 6-4 win over world number one Novak Djokovic.
Eurosport – 37 minutes ago
Scotland’s world number two unsettled Serbia’s 2011 champion Djokovic from an epic opening game, coming back from breaks down in the second and third sets, before fending off a brave fightback while serving for the match as he claimed his finest career victory.
Murray won last year’s US Open to end what was then a 76-year wait for a British male Grand Slam champion; he is now the first Briton of either gender to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977, and the first male since Fred Perry in 1936.
"It feels slightly different to last year," Murray said in reference to his tearful defeat in the 2012 final. "I don’t know how I managed to get through that last game – losing three match points was unbelievable. It was hard to watch but imagine playing it!
"Novak has come back so many times from similar positions and he almost did it again."
The beaten world number one was typically sportsmanlike at the trophy presentation.
"Congratulations to Andy, who absolutely deserved this win – you played incredible tennis," Djokovic said. "I know how much it means to all of you guys, the whole country, well done.
"I’m aware of the pressure he gets, although I cannot imagine the extent not being in his shoes.
"It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be part of this final."
Murray was exceptional at times but, by contrast, Djokovic had one of his worst games on Centre Court.
On the hottest day of the year in Britain, with the mercury soaring toward 30 degrees Celsius, the world’s two best players produced some scorching sinew-stretching action from the start and the first three games alone lasted 20 minutes.
The opening salvo of the Centre Court clash lasted 20 strokes as Murray went up 0-40 on the Serb’s serve but Djokovic produced staunch defence to stave off his opponent’s attack.
The duo did trade breaks in the third and fourth games, with each Murray winner being greeted by a chorus of 15,000 roars.
Second seed Murray got another chance to break to love in the seventh game and this time he pounced as the 2011 champion surrendered his serve by slapping a backhand into the net.
A set that initially looked like lasting forever ended exactly on the hour mark as Djokovic whipped a service return wide to give Murray, runner-up to Roger Federer last year, the one-set cushion.
The battle between the two players who were born seven days apart in 1987 intensified in the second set as they went toe-to-toe from the baseline with 25-shot rallies being par for the course.
Djokovic, who survived a four hour 43 minute semi-final epic against Juan Martin Del Potro two days ago, showed his super-human ability to recover quickly as he ran down everything Murray could throw at him.
The Serb rattled Murray by going for the lines and broke for a 3-1 lead when Olympic champion Murray flicked a forehand into the net.
Even when Djokovic slipped and skidded flat on to his stomach while trying to chase down a Murray winner, the six-times Grand Slam champion appeared unfazed as he quickly got back on to his feet to extend his lead to 4-1.
But Murray, who trains in the intense Miami heat, showed off his iron-man conditioning as he stormed back to level at 4-4, a Djokovic double fault on break point down handing him the break back in the seventh game.
While the cheering crowd, which included British Prime Minister David Cameron, got behind a pumped up Murray, Djokovic simply exploded in anger in the 11th game.
Convinced that Murray had gone long mid-rally at 15-15, he screamed at umpire Mohamed Lahyani "Why? What’s going on?" as he gesticulated wildly to show what he thought the linesman had failed to see.
Murray ignored the uproar to break the fuming Serb and soon had the fans roaring when he wrapped up the 69-minute second set with a 125mph thunderbolt ace.
The third set initially seemed a formality for Murray, who broke Djokovic early and almost sealed a double-break.
But two sloppy drop shots allowed the Serb to break back, with a rejuvenated Djokovic holding before winning the subsequent Murray service game as the Briton seemed to lose momentum.
Murray, however, has incredible mental and physical reserves and cancelled out that break with some intense hustling at the net, bringing it back with serve, which he held with a wonderful diving forehand off the baseline.
That was followed by a magnificent break for Murray, which boasted two astounding last-gasp winners, leaving him serving for the title.
Initially Djokovic saved three championship points as a nervy Murray’s serve deserted him, and the Serb even had three break-back points thanks to an unforced error to net from the Briton, a wonderful drop-shot off the net-cord and then a beautiful diving winner across the net.
But Murray saved them all, bringing up his fourth match point with some incredible fight at the baseline, his forehand pass forcing Djokovic to net a volley.
And, after his next serve was returned just inside the baseline, Murray was a spectator as Djokovic netted the follow up, sending Centre Court and an entire nation into raptures.
Nice work Pippa, but you forgot to mention Wimbledon’s big four
It is a brave pundit who attempts to follow the doyenne. In her guide to Wimbledon, published in Vanity Fair magazine, Pippa Middleton barely hits a bum note.
What observation, what perspicacity, what insight the future Queen’s sister offers up in her insider’s guide to what to look out for at the All England Club.
Take a raincoat, she suggests. Don’t plan dinner afterwards because matches sometimes go on late into the evening and there is apparently nothing worse in the human condition than missing Rafa Nadal in action because you’ve booked for a routine pizza with friends.
Do join in the Mexican wave (it’s such fun). And for goodness sake don’t wear stilettos: the walk from the tube is almost twenty minutes. Remember that, lads.
Thanks Pippa. Not a lot left for anyone else to consider after that. Though, to be fair – perhaps out of deference to friends and family – she leaves it to others to point out that the Centre Court crowd invariably features the year’s biggest gathering of those who have enjoyed the services of a cosmetic surgeon.
The ladies who lunch there (or if they follow Pippa’s advice take a cream tea with strawberries – seriously strawberries at Wimbledon, who’d have thought it until Pippa suggested the idea?) appear to do so only after an appointment in a nearby wind tunnel.
Also missing from her list is any observation about the centre court “oof”, the collective groan of disapproval when a player misses a winnable shot. This is the most dispiriting sound in world sport, a grumbly ticking off that makes the New Den greeting the arrival of West Ham sound positively encouraging.
But then Pippa isn’t one for miserablism. She loves her Wimbledon. She has been going since she was a tomboy, her appearance there an annual event long before the paparazzi picked her out in the stands quite coincidentally wearing a see-through dress.
And when Pippa takes her place in the royal box this year (no queuing up for tickets for People’s Sunday liked she used to now she has contacts) she could well be in for a treat.
This has the potential of being the best Wimbledon in a generation, certainly the best she will have seen in her twenty-odd years of unbroken attendance.
Never before – in the men’s game at least – has there been such an array of talent on show. Never before has it been so difficult to predict a winner.
When Rafa Nadal – fresh from quite astonishing triumph in the French Open – is seeded number five there is a clue to the excellence that will be on display.
Actually the very fact Nadal is going to be at Wimbledon fit and firing is cause for celebration. Last year, as he was knocked out by Lukas Rosol, the Czech world number 100, he was clearly struggling with the accumulated wear and tear of playing the power game.
But, as he proved in Paris, the muscular Spaniard is now back on form, fishing his knickers out of his crack with something approaching his old aplomb.
Novak Djokovic, the number one seed, too is as imperious as ever, an indefatigable combination of skill and refusal to yield. And it would be a foolish punter who writes off Roger Federer, a man who takes enormous enjoyment from circumventing the debilitations of time.
Sure, at 31, the clock is ticking on the elegant champion’s continuing mastery of centre court. Sure at times this season he has looked forlorn in defeat. But he loves Wimbledon almost as much as Pippa does. And the evidence of his first tournament win of the season last week is that his grass game is showing little sign yet of giving way to chronology.
Then there is Andy Murray. In truth, while his supporters have long talked about the big four of the men’s game, Murray has only recently joined the quartet.
Until last year, it was really only a big three and a half, Murray’s achievements to that point meant he belonged in the elite solely in the mind of British tennis writers and his mum.
Last year, however, changed all that. The Wimbledon final, Olympic gold and a win at the US Open signalled his accession to the very top of the game.
After missing the French Open with injury, he was simply brilliant at Queen’s, combining solid ground strokes with a flourish of eye-catching winners that were at times breath-taking.
He looked fitter than ever, strong, resourceful and canny. As John McEnroe suggested, he looked ready to fulfil his destiny. There can be no doubting he is now the real thing.
What this represents is Wimbledon’s perfect storm of talent, the four of them arriving together, ready to provide the finest competitive hoedown in the competition’s history.
And, given the fleeting nature of sporting prowess, this first gathering of the quartet coinciding in absolutely top form, might be the last. Hang on to your flats, Pippa: this could be the year Wimbledon blows your socks off.