Updated with Murray’s tweet
A year ago, Andy Murray stood on Centre Court at Wimbledon and, sobbing, told the crowd that, after his loss to Roger Federer, “I’m getting closer.”
If possible, that moment further endeared him to British tennis fans, hoping he could become the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. On Sunday, he delivered on his promise, blasting past Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 and triggering a celebration throughout the United Kingdom.
Keep calm and carry on? Not a chance. The 26-year-old from Dunblane, Scotland, drew a crowd befitting his coronation, with Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Wayne Rooney, Victoria Beckham, Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler rooting him on, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron.
“It feels slightly different to last year,” Murray said to laughter in an on-court interview. “Last year was one of the toughest moments of my career. … It was an unbelievably tough match [today], with so many long games. I don’t know how I managed to come through that final game through three match points.”
Murray, who beat Djokovic in a nearly 5-hour U.S. Open final last year for his first Grand Slam title, turned the match at Wimbledon with a stunning display in the second set, rallying from a 4-1 deficit as the two players pummeled each other in the heat of the hottest final in 37 years. Their rallies were lengthy and punishing in the 3-hour, 9-minute match.
Murray hung tougher in the third set, rallying from a 4-2 deficit and putting away Djokovic, who’d won a semifinal Friday that was the longest in Wimbledon history and looked fatigued at times, on the fourth championship point.
The interviewer pointed out that the final game was torture to watch and Murray replied, “Imagine playing it.” Later, he admitted of the final point: “I have no idea what happened. I really don’t know what happened,” he said, to more laughter from the crowd. “I don’t know how long that last game lasted. I can’t even remember. I’m sorry. That’s how well I was concentrating.”
When it was over, an emotional Murray, rooted on by the crowd in the stadium and watching the match outside on a big screen, climbed into the stands to greet his family and his coach, Ivan Lendl.
Finally, the pressure was off Murray, who’d won Olympic gold on Centre Court last summer. He’s now the first British male since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the tournament. “I hope you guys enjoy that I tried my best,” Murray told the roaring crowd. The pressure on him was undeniable, as Djokovic admitted.
“That makes his success even bigger,” Djokovic said. “I’m aware of the pressure that he gets. I’m not in his skin so I don’t know to what extent but definitely there are a lot of expectations of him and to pull out a championship tournament this year…is a great achievement. On my side, I gave it all.”
By the time Murray was serving for the match, the crowd was roaring on every point as Murray moved to 1-1 against Djokovic in Grand Slams this year. Anybody for the U.S. Open?
Can’t believe what’s just happened!!!!!!!
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) July 7, 2013