Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in the men’s final at Wimbledon on Sunday, becoming the first male British player to win the tournament in 77 years:
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.”. . .
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.”
For the United Kingdom, Murray’s victory was cause for celebration:
It was all a bit head-spinning, what with Prime Minister David Cameron saying “I can’t think of anyone who deserves [knighthood] more.” But Murray wasn’t aware of just what kind of celebration he’d touched off until a little later.
“[A]fter the match you see some of the pictures of the hill and people watching back in [his] Dunblane [Scotland hometown] and the sports clubs, people at the Tower of London. I don’t know how many people watched yesterday on the TV – there will have been hundreds of millions across the world and that’s not really something you can grasp. That’s a strange feeling.
“When I was sat downstairs on my own when I was waiting to do drug testing, that’s when it all hit me. I just got like so tired. I felt like I hit a wall and that’s when it felt like it was all starting to sink in, all of the emotions and what I had just done.”
Murray, ranked No. 2 in the world today despite Sunday’s win over No. 1 Novak Djokovic, plans to take a few days off before beginning to train for next month’s U.S. Open. Where he happens to be the defending champion.
The championship ended decades of frustration and disappointment for British tennis fans:
Since Fred Perry won the last of his three Wimbledon titles in 1936, Britain’s failure to produce a worthy heir had come to symbolize all the grandeur that had faded from the empire. England’s Tim Henman reached Wimbledon’s semifinal four times from 1998 to 2002 but lacked the grit and power to gut out the seven matches of best-of-five sets required to win the grass-court classic. Each year Henman fell short, Britain’s psyche seemed to suffer another small blow.
The 2012 London Olympics restored a measure of sporting pride. The city staged a glorious spectacle. British athletes won 65 medals. And at the All England club, Murray claimed the gold medal in the tennis competition.
But Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament, is the true measure of greatness in the sport. And however proud the British were of Murray’s evolution from gangly Scottish teen to 2012 Olympic and U.S. Open champion, they would have regarded him as yet another disappointment had he never won Wimbledon.
In the women’s tournament, the idiosyncratic Marion Bartoli of France beat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki for the championship:
Bartoli’s Centre Court triumph Saturday — 6-1, 6-4 over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki to claim the coveted Wimbledon title — was one of hard work, persistence and the courage to forge a singular path.
At 28, Bartoli had competed in 46 Grand Slam events over her 13-year career without winning one. But as Wimbledon’s 15th seed, the French woman strode onto Centre Court this rare, sun-drenched afternoon with a champion’s mind-set. And she launched her unconventional attack — stepping inside the baseline at every opportunity, pouncing on balls early and ripping two-fisted blasts off both her forehand and backhand — while Lisicki, 23, competing in her first Grand Slam final, unraveled in nerves and frustration.
After letting three match points slip away while serving for the match at 5-1, Bartoli clinched the victory with an improbable ace. Suddenly, it was as if her world switched to slow motion. She saw the white chalk kick up on the back corner of the service box, confirming the ace. In the surreal seconds it took to grasp what that meant, drop to her knees and gather herself to trot toward the net to embrace a tearful Lisicki, Bartoli felt her feet leave the ground.
For coverage from earlier in the tournament, continue reading here.