With David and Victoria Beckham among the famous faces in attendance for the Wimbledon gentlemen’s final, Roger Federer and Andy Murray battled for history. If Murray won he would be ending a 76 year drought at Wimbledon for players from the UK and winning his first Grand Slam. If Federer won he would win his 7th Wimbledon title, 17th Grand Slam overall and re-take the number one ranking equaling Pete Sampras’ time spent at number one.
It was Roger who created history and Andy who, again, went home defeated by both Roger and himself. Federer won his 17th Grand Slam 4-6 ,7-5, 6-3, 6-4 once again leaving the UK without a champion.
It was Murray who came out aggressively as he had in his previous matches and drew first blood with a break of serve. Normally a crowd favourite at any tournament Federer was in the unusual position of facing the home crowd favourite who were vocal in their support of Andy.
Federer had played his previous two matches under the Wimbledon roof and it seemed to take him a few games to adapt to the conditions or to over come early nerves.
The wonderful tennis mind of Federer soon remedied his early issues, presenting Murray with some mixed pace shots that drew him into error allowing Federer to break back. The break back seemed to wake the giant.
Murray was forced to produce some incredible play to defend multiple break point chances at 3-4 and escaped and leveled at four all with no challenges remaining.
To get to 15-30 on Federer’s following service game Murray went straight at Federer’s head with a shot that missed the ducking Roger by centimeters. Soon Murray had double break point, needing only one, before he served the first set out.
It was the first set Murray has ever won in a Grand Slam final in four finals.
The second set produced some incredible tennis as heavy dark clouds gathered over center court. Murray maintained his momentum and aggressive play level but was unable to convert a break point opportunity at four all. At 6-5 the momentum suddenly swung heavily to the six time champ as Federer let his forehand do the damage as Murray tried in vain to force a tiebreak.
As signs of the Murray of old surfaced he managed to hold his first service game in the third set but the signs that his concentration was waning were there.
After a 30 minute rain delay the now indoor match swung heavily in Federer’s favour.
As if Federer had smelt blood (and a seventh title) in the first moments of the third set he came back and went after Murray’s second serve. In the fifth game Murray battled to hold serve, throwing his body around the court, slipping over and dropping his head as he felt the pressure growing.
Incredible serving from Murray defended multiple break point chances as it became increasingly obvious that if Murray didn’t win the third set he was going to fade away (or be put away by Roger) very quickly. After 15 minutes the sixth game still hadn’t been decided and Murray’s body language was deteriorating rapidly until he was looking very much like the Murray that had self destructed in two Australian Open finals.
It soon became clear that the mind and game of Murray was not strong enough to stay with Federer.
Early in the fourth set Murray had a chance to break but Federer closed out the Scots hopes repeatedly, all but extinguishing Andy’s hopes with a break and a 3-2 lead.
As Murray often does when he’s behind he poked an prodded seemingly sore parts of his body but never called for the trainer. His head ducked in defeat more frequently as Federer smoothly traversed the court manipulating the ball and Andy at his will.
As Andy threw away challenges and opportunities it became clear that over Federer’s dead body was the Swiss Maestro going to see Andy go home with the trophy.
As Murray tried to cling on to the match he couldn’t seem to get a first serve to land anywhere but the middle of the net while Federer was playing some of the best tennis we’ve seen from him in years.
Andy wept in defeat as the Brits roared in support as he attempted a speech that “was not going to be easy.” Murray’s long term girlfriend Kim Sears and mother Judy cried with him as he struggled to speak.
For some time Federer has spoken of his desire to return to number one. It seems only right that the man widely regarded as the greatest of all time will equal and then over take Pete Sampras as the man who has spent the most weeks as the highest ranked player in the world.
Roger’s win also quietens talk of his decline, his taking a backseat to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and increases his Grand Slam tally to a huge 17.
This issue of mental strength is exactly why Rafael Nadal has been so good against Federer and is almost always the reason Murray has failed in Grand Slam finals in the past.
However, for Murray there were huge positives to take away. All tournament he has played more aggressively with a better attitude than I ever remember seeing from him. How much damage this loss will do to him remains to be seen.
The other huge positive is his show of emotion and improvement has won him more fans at home and around the world than he has ever had before.