Andy Murray ends 77-year wait for Wimbledon men's champion

07 July 2013 / 17:24

Reset the clock. No more nearly men and no more plucky Brits - Andy Murray is the Wimbledon champion and a 77-year old stain on Britain's national sporting character has been gloriously erased.

Since his first promising appearance at Wimbledon in 2005, there has been talk that Murray would be the chosen one to end the losing run.

And a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 final victory over top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic delivered for those who liked what they saw eight years ago.

For nearly eight decades the best Britain had to offer in the men's singles at the All England Club was Fred Perry, a name now more synonymous with polo shirts and a player only remembered in black and white photographs and smudgy newsreels.

Twelve months ago Murray had shed tears of disappointment after losing in the final to Roger Federer, which turned to tears of joy when he reversed that result at the Olympics just a few weeks later.

He'd already won at Wimbledon but now he's won Wimbledon, a subtle difference in wording of infinite significance.

"It feels a bit different to last year, that was one of the toughest moments of my career, it was an unbelievably tough match and I don't know how I came through it," said Murray, who rushed to greet his coach Ivan Lendl, mother Judy and girlfriend Kim Sears, after converting his fourth match point chance.

"I've played Novak many times and he's come back so many times from losing positions and I just managed to squeeze through in the end.

"I know how much people wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon, I hope everyone enjoyed it."

And enjoy it they surely did - though it may not have felt like it at the time.

This was consummate display from Murray against the world number one, he had the answer to every question posed with a consistent performance that will live long in the memory. 

Unlike his quarter and semi-final wins there were no major wobbles, it may not have been straightforward but few would have predicted a straight sets result.

Though the scoreline was tight, Murray dominated the statistics. He outserved the Serbian, booming down more aces and making less double faults. He was better at the net, hit more winners and made less unforced errors.

There are few fitter players than Murray and Djokovic, which was just as well as the mercury bubbled on Centre Court, the official surface temperature more than 100 degrees on the hottest day in the UK this year.

The opening game gave a glimpse of what was to come, as two players - who were born just seven days apart - proved hard to separate.

It opened with a 20 stroke rally as Murray got the crowd pumping by seizing three early break points, Djokovic duly responded by winning five points in succession.

Murray though took the early advantage, seizing his seventh break point chance to take the initiative but Djokovic hit back immediately in what was to become a familiar pattern.

The first set lasted just under an hour with both players slugging it out from the parched baseline with a series of brutal and intense rallies that surely couldn't be maintained.

Murray took the opener, much like he did in last year's final against Roger Federer, but this time there was no chance of the the roof closing in on him as SW19 sweltered under bright blue skies.

And when Djokovic raced into a 4-1 lead in the second set, resilient Murray stubbornly dug deeper into his reserves, cashing in those punishing hours in the gym or sweating it out at his famed Miami training camps.

This was attritional tennis, with no quarter being asked or given by two players at the very peak of their powers. 

But the momentum, that often unquantifiable winning ingredient, seemed to be with Murray.

He won three straight games to level it up, decisively broke the world number one in the 11th and then served out to love, firing down a ninth ace to take a second set lasting one hour and nine minutes.

But Djokovic has come from two sets down before and took last year's US Open final to a decider after Murray had raced away with it early on.

However, Murray was in no mood to let his winning position slip and Djokovic seemed shocked by the level of intensity coming at him from across the net and the waves of euphoria rolling down from the stands.

Last year the Scot was steamrollered by the Fed Express, this time it was Djokovic who look like he'd been hit by an express train, perhaps The Flying Scotsman, as Murray secured an early break in the third.

But Djokovic isn't the world number one and a six-time Grand Slam winner without knowing how to fight. Perhaps it was the enormity of what he was closing in on achieving that made Murray suddenly tighten and his rival hit back with four straight games.

However, the happy ending had perhaps already been written after a storied Championship from a rare vintage.

Murray broke Djokovic twice in succession - scampering to some improbable winners in the process - and then roared on by a crowd giddy on emotion had the chance to serve for the title.

But still - perhaps appropriately after all those years - it wasn't easy. Murray spurned three championship points, then saved three break points and after a rally that defied belief, served out for the title.

"I throw everything at him but it wasn't enough, Andy played incredible tennis and absolutely deserved this win," said Djokovic.

"I know how much it means to Andy and the whole country, so well done. I know the pressure he gets, there is a lot of expectation. I gave it my all, it was an honour to be part of this final."

By James Toney, Sportsbeat, at the All England Club

© Sportsbeat 2013