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Magnificent Andy Murray puts on masterclass to claim second Wimbledon title

Andy blows away Canada's Raonic in straight sets

By Paul Newman

Victory for Andy Murray on the most famous stage in tennis was even sweeter second time around.

Three years ago Murray's overwhelming emotion after ending Britain's 77-year wait for a men's singles champion at Wimbledon was one of relief, but after winning the All England Club title for a second time here the Scot said that he was determined to enjoy the moment.

"I feel happier this time, more content," Murray said after beating Canada's Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 with a performance that was even more dominant than the scoreline might suggest. "Last time it was just pure relief, and I didn't really enjoy the moment as much, whereas I'm going to make sure I enjoy this one more."

He added: "The last time it was such a big thing for a British man to win Wimbledon. It had been so long, I was so relieved that I'd done that. It was a question I'd been asked so many times over the course of my career. It's something you start to think about and put more and more pressure on yourself to do it.

"I want to spend this time with my family, my closest friends and the people that I work with. That's who I want to be around right now. I'll make sure I spend a lot of time with them over the next couple of days."

From the moment Murray won his first match here for the loss of only nine games the world No 2 has looked like a man on a mission. He has played some of the best tennis of his life in the last fortnight and his professionalism and focus have been unwavering.

This was his 12th successive victory, preserving his unbeaten sequence since Ivan Lendl returned to coach him for a second time last month, but in truth has been on a roll for more than two months now. In his last five tournaments he has won the Rome Masters, Aegon Championships and Wimbledon and finished runner-up at the Madrid Masters and French Open.

The final had been billed as a showdown between one of the game's greatest servers and one of its best returners, but in the end it was no contest. Raonic hit thunderbolt serves at speeds of up to 147mph but could manage only eight aces. He had averaged 25 per match in the previous six rounds.

Murray, who made only 12 unforced errors, returned superbly and forced seven break points in the match. Although he converted only one of them, he dominated both tie-breaks. Murray was admirably aggressive from the back of the court and sound at the net, though for the most part it was Raonic who got forward, in the knowledge that his opponent's athleticism would make him the favourite to win any prolonged rallies.

However, time and again Murray beat Raonic either with thumping passing shots or with delightful changes of pace. When he could, Raonic hit his forehands with great power, but Murray gets as many balls back as anyone. On two occasions he even won points by getting back Raonic's smashes. Murray also served beautifully. He conceded just two break points in the match, neither of which Raonic could take.

Before play started Murray seemed as relaxed as if he was about to play a gentle mixed doubles at his local club.

While Raonic, the first Canadian man to play in a Grand Slam singles final, bounced up and down at one end of the court anxiously waiting to start, Murray took his time rising from his chair before strolling back into position, stopping to tie his shoelaces along the way.

If anyone was feeling the pressure of the occasion it was not the 29-year-old from Dunblane, despite the line-up watching from the Royal Box. As well as the Prime Minister and significant royal representation, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, there was a glittering array of former Wimbledon champions, including Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Manolo Santana and Chris Evert.

Three weeks after Murray beat Raonic in the final of the Aegon Championships, this was a much more emphatic victory. Raonic won the first set at Queen's Club, but on this occasion it was Murray who set the pace from the start, forcing his first break point in only the third game. Although Raonic saved it, the way that the Scot stepped in to attack the serve was a real statement of intent.

Four games later Raonic faced two more break points when he served at 3-3 and 15-40. On the first break point the Canadian came into the net behind a moderate approach and was fortunate to see Murray's backhand fly beyond the baseline. The second was an action replay until Murray's ferocious forehand forced his opponent into a volley error.

Having served out for the first set, Murray had a chance to draw blood at the start of the second but netted a forehand on break point in the opening game. At 4-4 the Scot had two more break points, but Raonic managed to cling on and eventually took the set to a tie-break.

The first tie-break looked sure to be Murray's from the moment Raonic netted a poor backhand on the opening point and then went 3-0 down. At 1-3 Murray won another point against serve with a forehand cross-court pass winner after returning a Raonic smash and at 6-3 he hit a second serve which the Canadian was unable to return.

When Raonic took a lengthy toilet break before the start of the third set you wondered whether the big man might have decided to call it a day, but the Canadian returned and, to his credit, continued to push hard.

At 2-2, after two hours and 10 minutes, Raonic forced his only break points of the match, but Murray held firm and saved both of them. At deuce he cracked a winning backhand pass down the line and a service winner completed the game, upon which a fired-up Murray roared in celebration, as if he knew that would be Raonic's last chance.

The set went to another tie-break, which Murray again dominated. On Raonic's first two service points the Scot thundered a cross-court backhand beyond the Canadian's reach and then forced him into a forehand error with a merciless attack.

Murray (below) went 6-1 up with a forehand winner after his ferocious return had forced Raonic to play the ball short and converted his second match point when the Canadian netted a backhand in the face of another brutal attack. After two hours and 48 minutes Murray looked to the skies in celebration and wept tears of joy as he sat in his chair before the presentation ceremony.

"I did the best I could," Raonic said afterwards. "I tried coming forward, putting pressure on him. He was playing much better than me off the baseline. He was more effective there."

Murray is due to play for Britain in their Davis Cup quarter-final away to Serbia in Belgrade beginning on Friday, but the Scot said he would have to consider overnight whether to play and would talk to Leon Smith, his captain, this morning.

"Physically I feel OK just now, which is kind of normal after a match like that," he said. "But when I wake up tomorrow morning, it will be a bit different. But I'm going to speak to my team about that today and tomorrow morning."

Belfast Telegraph


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