Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Incredible day awesome Andy Murray ended a long Wimbledon wait for title glory

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07:  Andy Murray of Great Britain poses with 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 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 7, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Andy Murray of Great Britain poses with 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 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 7, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Crowds watching the Wimbledon final at Belfast City Hall . Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Crowds watching the Wimbledon final at Belfast City Hall . Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Downing Street flying the Scottish Saltire to mark the occasion of Andy Murray playing in the Wimbledon final. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Downing Street flying the Scottish Saltire to mark the occasion of Andy Murray playing in the Wimbledon final. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Of all the days Scotland's Andy Muuray will know, and all the prizes he will win, these were the ones bathed in golden sunshine that he will always have with him - and for which he will always be revered.

He did something more important here than simply winning a tennis crown the nation has been craving for 77 years -- to the claiming of which he has devoted so much of a life once scarred by the school shooting tragedy in his home town of Dunblane.

He won the Wimbledon men's title -- last gained for Britain by Fred Perry amid polite and decorous scenes -- with a spirit and a brilliance which said to Britain's youth that, if you work hard enough, if you believe that you can beat any odds put in front of you, anything can be achieved.

This was indeed the reality when Murray raced to his three-set victory in a little more than three hours, because he didn't merely beat a highly esteemed rival. He overwhelmed Novak Djokovic, the 26-year-old Serbian many tennis experts were beginning to believe might just be the greatest player the game has seen.

The score, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, might also suggest that the winner of six Grand Slam titles had an unaccountably bad day, one when his famous appetite for victory had been worn down by the extraordinary passion of Murray and his Centre Court support.

But he didn't surrender -- he fought so ferociously that later Murray, after his climb to the stands to embrace his entourage, including his coach Ivan Lendl and his mother Judy, said: "I don't expect to ever have a harder game. The points were unbelievably hard but it was something I wasn't going to let go."

What he wasn't going to let go was one of the great days of sporting history. In its celebration of a British institution's passion for a summer game, it is one to rival England's sole World Cup football victory at Wembley in 1966.

Then, the Charlton brothers embraced, Bobby Moore was carried aloft and Nobby Stiles, toothless and jubilant, performed his victory jig.

Last night in Wimbledon we had something that would never be forgotten. Not by the thousands in front of the big screen on what was once known as Henman Hill -- named for the gallant futility of Murray's predecessor Tim Henman before it was rechristened Murray Mound -- and those in the Centre Court who so often raced ahead of the play in their emotions, they had to be curbed by the umpire.

The celebration seemed to run a little deeper than for a mere triumph on a tennis court. It was maybe a matter of pride that one young man had reached out so hard and so brilliantly to pull off his great ambition.

There was a time when some doubted Murray's ability to pull off his challenge. He kept searching for a moment of breakthrough.

It came last year with the US Open title and an Olympic gold but it was always this prize in London SW19 which represented the apex of his ambition.

With the help of his Grand Slam-winning coach Ivan Lendl, Murray broke down the mysteries of what it was to rise to the top of what is generally agreed to be the greatest generation of players in his era. Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, the founders of this elite, disappeared early and, according to so many experts, left a vacuum to be inherited by Djokovic.

Instead Murray simply grew stronger with each round. Yesterday, when Djokovic fought so brilliantly to retrieve three match points in the final game, Murray stopped short only at baring his chest and gnashing teeth before declaring: "I will always remember how it was when I served to 40-love in that last game and then saw three match points slip away.

"It couldn't happen -- and I wasn't going to let it happen."

Wimbledon had seen something more uplifting than the best British male tennis win since Fred Perry, in his white flannels, whipped Gottfried von Cramm.

They had seen a compatriot make good his dreams and theirs.

THE PIVOTAL POINTS

2.14pm Murray wins first point after a 20-stroke rally.

2.16pm Murray quickly gets three break points, but squanders them.

2.21pm First ace to Murray.

2.34pm It takes three games and six previous missed chances, but the first break goes to Murray, with a backhand down the line.

2.40pm Djokovic breaks back.

3.00pm Commentators worry that as a Scot, Murray isn't used to so much sun and needs to cover up.

3.14pm And just like that, Murray takes the first set, 6-4.

3.38pm Oops, not good. It's 3-1 to Djokovic as the first break of serve in the second set goes against Murray.

3.46pm The match turns as Murray puts on the hat to see if it makes him play like the becapped Djokovic.

3.56pm The hat works, and Djokovic serves a double fault to give Murray the break back.

4.19pm Murray breaks to edge ahead with six games to Djokovic's five.

4.23pm Two sets to Murray. Commentator Castle: "He's a set away from history."

4.56pm Murray loses four games in a row; Djokovic is up 4-2.

5.00pm Murray has another two break points. And the game. Celebrates with an ice towel and banana.

5.07pm Murray holds serve and the cameraman finds the lady in the crowd who can't punctuate with her "Lets Make History" banner. The score is 4-4.

5.09pm With an electric break, he's one service game away from victory.

5.14pm After three hours and one minute: three championship points!

5.15pm Two championship points!

5.16pm One championship point!

5.17pm And break point to Djokovic. And deuce. Repeat, seemingly ad infinitum, until...

5.24pm A fourth championship point and Murray keeps the ball in play. Djokovic nets a backhand. Murray is Wimbledon Champ!

Sweaty hugs all round! But not, it seems for Murray's mum Judy, who he later admits he forgot all about in favour of hugging Lendl, friend Ross Hutchins, Kim Sears, even Sir Chris Hoy.

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