Murray ends Britain's 77-year wait at Wimbledon

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm •  Published: July 7, 2013
Advertisement
;

On a 16-shot exchange, Djokovic delivered an overhead that was retrieved, then tried a drop shot that Murray got back. Djokovic put the ball in the net, and Murray was at match point No. 4. When that one went Murray's way, the ball on Djokovic's side of the court, Murray dropped his neon-red racket, yanked his white hat off and pumped both fists overhead, screaming, "Yes! Yes!" He was looking directly at the corner of the stadium with benches for members of the press, a group that he used to worry helped fuel the intense pressure and only-one-way-to-satisfy-them expectations on Murray's shoulders.

"It's hard. It's really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it's been very, very tough, very stressful," Murray said. "It's just kind of everywhere you go. It's so hard to avoid everything because of how big this event is, but also because of the history and no Brit having won."

When a Brit did win, 15,000 or so spectators around the arena rose and yelled right back at him, some waving Union Jacks or blue-and-white Scottish flags. Soon, Murray was climbing into the guest box for hugs with his girlfriend, his mother and his coach, Ivan Lendl, who won eight major titles as a player but never fared better than the runner-up at Wimbledon.

"I didn't always feel it was going to happen," said Murray, who fumbled with his gold trophy after the ceremony, dropping the lid. "It's incredibly difficult to win these events. I don't think that's that well-understood sometimes. It takes so much hard work, mental toughness, to win these sort of tournaments."

At the end, across the grounds, thousands responded with cheers while watching on a giant videoboard at the picnic lawn known as Murray Mount. And, surely, millions more following along on TV across Britain stood up from their sofas. British Prime Minister David Cameron was in the Royal Box, a sign of the day's significance, and Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II sent Murray a private message afterward.

"The end of the match, that was incredibly loud, very noisy," Murray said. "It does make a difference. It really helps when the crowd's like that, the atmosphere is like that. Especially in a match as tough as that one, where it's extremely hot, brutal, long rallies, tough games — they help you get through it."

Said Djokovic, who famously ate blades of grass after winning Wimbledon in 2011: "The atmosphere was incredible for him. For me, not so much. But that's what I expected."

The fans were active participants throughout, lamenting "awwww" when Murray missed a serve; cheering rowdily when he hit one of his 36 winners, five more than Djokovic; shushing in unison when someone called out in premature agony or delight while a point was in progress.

That was understandable. Points rarely are over when they appear to be if Murray and Djokovic are involved. The elastic Djokovic's sliding carries him to so many shots, while Murray is more of a powerful scrambler. It took a half-hour to get through the opening five games, in part because 10 of 32 points lasted at least 10 strokes apiece. And this all happened with the temperature above 80 degrees (27 Celsius), with only the occasional puff of cloud interrupting the blue sky.

Born a week apart in May 1987, Murray and Djokovic have known each other since they were 11, and they grasp the ins and outs of each other's games so well.

"You've got to fight so hard to get past Novak, because he's such an incredible competitor, an amazing athlete, and it's never over 'til it's over," Judy Murray said.

This was their 19th meeting on tour (Djokovic leads 11-8), and their fourth in a Grand Slam final, including three in the past year. Both are fantastic returners, and Murray broke seven times Sunday, once more than Djokovic lost his serve in the preceding six matches combined.

In the late going, Djokovic was taking some shortcuts, repeatedly trying drop shots or rushing to the net to shorten points, but neither strategy tended to work.

"He was getting some incredible shots on the stretch and running down the drop shots," Djokovic said. "He was all over the court."

Admittedly feeling the effects of his five-setter Friday against Juan Martin del Potro — at 4 hours, 43 minutes, it's the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history — Djokovic was far more erratic than Murray, with particular problems on the backhand side. Djokovic wound up with 40 unforced errors, nearly double Murray's 21.

"I wasn't patient enough," Djokovic said.

Ah, patience. The British needed plenty when it comes to their precious, prestigious tennis tournament.

Thanks to Murray, the wait is over.

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich