Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Andy Murray proud to lay Fred Perry record to rest

Andy Murray of Great Britain punches the air on the Centre court balcony as he holds the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy following his victory in the Gentlemen's Singles Final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships

Rest in peace, Fred Perry. Seventy-seven years after the MP's son from Stockport won the last of his three All England Club titles, Britain finally has another Wimbledon men's singles champion.

Andy Murray, for so long the standard-bearer for his country, achieved one of his lifetime ambitions and ended the nation's tortuous wait for a home winner when he claimed the trophy here yesterday amid scenes of raucous celebration on Centre Court.

Twelve months after suffering one of the greatest disappointments of his career when he lost to Roger Federer in his first Wimbledon final, Murray returned to beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 after more than three hours of pulsating drama. The lessons learned from last year, plus the confidence he derived from his subsequent Olympic and US Open triumphs, were all evident as Murray swept aside the world No 1 with a superbly focused display of attacking tennis.

"Winning Wimbledon, yeah, I still can't believe it," Murray said in his post-final press conference. I can't get my head around that. I can't believe it."

In front of a crowd full of famous faces, ranging from David Cameron through to Wayne Rooney and two Wimbledon legends in Rod Laver and Roy Emerson, Murray confirmed what a supreme master of grass-court tennis he has become. This was his 18th victory in a row on the sport's most challenging surface and was achieved on the hottest day of the tournament, with the temperature approaching 30C, or nearly 50C in the sun.

"It was so hot," Murray said. "I hadn't played any matches in the heat of the day. Since I missed the French Open with my back, it had been cool. I hadn't played at all in those sort of conditions. The first few games were brutal as well. The first four games took 30 minutes, so it was an incredibly demanding match physically."

After seeing Djokovic save three Championship points when Murray served for the set, the Scot described the last game as "mentally the toughest I'll ever play in my career".

Murray remained focused on his task from start to finish. Asked what he had been thinking at the changeover before the final game, Murray said: "I was thinking, honestly, where I was going to serve my first serve. Often in games when you're serving for matches, the first point of the game can be crucial. So I was thinking exactly where I was going to serve."

Djokovic admitted that Murray had been better player in the crucial moments. "I didn't play on the top of my abilities" the Serb said. "I wasn't patient enough in the moments when I should have been and my serve wasn't as good as it was the whole tournament." He added: "That's life. You have to move on. I'll be OK tomorrow."

From the start the crowd crackled with excitement both inside the stadium – Murray said it was the best atmosphere he had ever played in at the All England Club – and outside as thousands watched the giant TV screen on Henman Hill. The Centre Court crowd has probably never been louder at these Championships and they matched the volume that was generated last year when Murray won Olympic gold here.

"The atmosphere today was different to what I've experienced in the past," he said. "It was different to last year's final. At the end of the match it was incredibly loud, very noisy.

"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 they help you get through it."

When Murray climbed into the stands to celebrate with his family and entourage, the first person he embraced was Ivan Lendl, his coach, who in the last 18 months has helped to turn him from a nearly man into a champion.

"He just said that he was proud of me, which obviously coming from him means a lot," Murray said. "He doesn't smile in public too much, but when he's away from the crowds and the cameras he's a very different character. Ideally he would have won (this title) himself, but I think this was the next best thing for him. He believed in me when a lot of people didn't.I'm just happy I managed to do it for him."

Having celebrated with all his entourage, his girlfriend Kim Sears and his father, Willie, the one person Murray initially forgot was his mother, Judy. As he started to climb back down to the court, however, he said he heard her "squealing" and returned to embrace her.

Murray, who is the first Briton of either sex to win a singles title here since Virginia Wade in 1977, has triumphed at the eighth attempt. Asked how difficult it had been to be the main hope of British tennis for so long, Murray said: "It's really hard. For the last four or five years, it's been very, very tough, very stressful. The few days before the tournament were really difficult as well and the last two days are not easy."

As for the memory of Perry, Murray did not quite know what to say. "It's a name that I've heard so much over the course of my career," he said. "It's a shame that I never got to meet him."