Under on-court temperatures that touched 50C (122F) Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year drought at Wimbledon, becoming the nation’s first male singles winner since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray, 26, defeated the world No.1, Novak Djokovic, in straight sets to win his second Grand Slam title after the US Open last year. A beaten finalist against Roger Federer at Wimbledon 12 months ago Murray this time seized the day
Amid almost unbearable tension and excitement Djokovic saved three match points in a seemingly interminable final game before finally netting to hand Murray victory by 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
The nerves that gripped the stadium in those final minutes seemed a world away when Murray began with the ease of a man knocking up in his back garden winning the opening three points to win a trio of break points. But Djokovic produced a champion’s response taking the next five points to hold. The Serb’s next service game was, though, even more difficult Murray carving out a series of break points. The Scot held his hip gingerly after running down a drop shot to force the fourth but then produced a brilliantly disguised back-hand to wrong-foot the serve and make the break.
The advantage was brief. Djokovic breaking Murray’s next serve. Twenty-six minutes had elapsed with just four games played and both players broken. Calm returned for a couple of games, then Murray set the crowd – noticeably more partisan than last year against Federer – roaring again by breaking Djokovic to love. The high sun, however, made serving from the Roller End difficult and Murray now had to switch to that end. He delivered a brace of double-faults but produced a ace to save a break -point and ultimately held for 5-3.
The mercury at this point was 49.8C in the sun, and there was no shade to be had on Centre Court. Those rows of spectators seated in the glare were a constant flutter of hand-held fans, but for Murray and Djokovic there was no such relief. The tie was a minute short of the hour-mark when Murray served for the set and took it with the shortest game.
Djokovic looked unhappy, rattled by the crowd and some line-calls, but he never goes easily. The Serb broke Murray early in the second set to take a 3-1 lead and moved to 4-1. Murray 2013 is a different Murray though, and he rallied dramatically. Having held to cut the deficit he prevailed in successive extended games to draw level. The set moved to 5-5, then Murray broke again, seizing on a loss of composure by the world No.1 who disputed a line-call, but had no challenges left. To wild cheers from Centre Court, echoed on Murray Mound, the British No.1 served out, clinching the 69-minute set with an ace.
Last autumn Murray led Djokovic 2-0 in New York, and was pegged back to 2-2 before finally winning the US Open, so he knew he dare not let his intensity slip. He did not, breaking Djokovic then holding to love to establish a 2-0 third set lead. Murray had at this stage won eight out of nine games but Djokovic refused to fold. Using his drop shot cunningly the Serb reversed the game’s momentum to go 4-2 ahead with successive breaks.
For the first time Murray looked tired, hardly surprisingly for it is hard to maintain the physical and mental intensity he had shown for more than two hours. Yet he dug deep and, roared on by an enraptured 15,000 Centre Court crowd, clawed his way back. Djokovic was broken once, broken twice, and suddenly, to chants of ‘Murray, Murray’ he was serving for the match.
In the blink of an eye three match points arrived. Djokovic saved one, saved two. Nerves tingled. An ace was prematurely acclaimed as the winner, but the service was long. Djokovic then saved the third match point. Deuce. There were three more deuces before Murray finally forced another match point. This time he could not be denied. The waiting was over.
Culled from The Independent (London), July 7 2013