Andy Murray makes Wimbledon history with first British male win since 1936
Scot chisels out straight sets victory over Novak Djokovic in final
Andy Murray is overcome with emotion after beating Novak Djokovic in the men’s singles final at Wimbledon yesterday. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA.
It wasn’t so much a long English summer as 77 years of arid weeks in June and July that were initially an irritant, became a joke and in small steps through the decades inflated to become a country’s burden. Yesterday Wimbledon was finally permitted to embrace one of its own.
Tim Henman had it toughest. He probably cursed Fred Perry and his 1936 legacy as it seemed to bear down on him year after year as he tumbled out of the draw before the final stages, always playing at the limit of his ability.
Henman had the serve and volley game but Andy Murray has the dog in him. The Scot’s search for a coach who would enable him to achieve his dream ended at the door of flinty Ivan Lendl, a former champion who knows nothing of compromise.
Murray beat the world number one Novak Djokovic on Centre Court yesterday in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 over three hours and nine minutes and fell to his knees in tears, British tennis absolved of sin. Perry could finally rest.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard,” said Murray of the burden he had carried. “For the last four or five years, it’s been very, very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure.”
Perry would approve of Murray and Murray has made efforts to meet with his family. It is a name that both haunted him and spurred him on to Olympic Games gold last summer, then to the US Open title. Wimbledon was the next faltering but logical step.
In that Perry’s name has been linked with Murray from the moment he knew his talent had the breadth to win large, the two of them mavericks in different ways.
Perry was acclaimed in the Charlie Chaplin era, a splash of colour in the depression years. He once dated Marlene Dietrich. Celebrated across the tennis world, he was ostracised by the tennis establishment for turning professional after completing a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles. The son of a cotton spinner from Stockport and a star of his day he was deeply disillusioned with the class-conscious nature of the Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain. So he left and became American.
“He’s someone that is quite relevant in my career really,” said Murray. “He’s someone that I’ve spoken to a lot of people about. I’ve met various people from his family and obviously used to wear his gear.
“It’s a weird one. It’s a name that I’ve heard so much over the course of my career. It’s a shame that I never got to meet him.”
Murray won a brutal match that was played in temperatures topping 40 degrees. With the dust kicking up at the back of the court, the match took over an hour for each set, 20 minutes for just the first three games.
Service games were as usual the hallmark, both players universally known for their return. But the expected tiebreaks never arrived with three service breaks in the first set, two of those falling to Murray for 6-4.
Rallies were long, many of them drawing gasps from the 15,000 crowd. But it was the Serb who shaped the second set with a 4-1 lead before Murray came back with two service breaks, closing the set with a love game for 7-5. That crushed Djokovic, who had only twice in his career come back from two sets down.
The momentum carried and Murray broke Djokovic for 0-1 in the third set but a scrappy service game in the sixth game and a forehand to the net handed back the advantage, drawing deep groans from the sweltering support.
But the Scot didn’t waver, breaking Djokovic again and serving for the match at 5-4. It’s that final game that sticks in his head as Murray rifled his way to 40-0 and championship point. But the ever reliable Djokovic climbed out of that hole and took the game to break point three times.
The crowd’s nerves fraying, Murray finally worked the game to his advantage. This time he served big with the world number one’s backhand finding the middle of the net.
“Winning Wimbledon I think is the pinnacle of tennis,” said Murray “It was a different match to the US Open. Winning Wimbledon, yeah, I still can’t believe it. Can’t get my head around that.”
The win was chiselled from rock, the same way Lendl would have won many of his eight Grand Slams.
The US Open win was the first male British Slam since Perry’s at Wimbledon. Redrawing tennis history there is now a patch of grass in the All-England Club that will forever be Scotland.