Murray gave them plenty of cause.
The Olympic gold-medal final, like all men’s Grand Slam finals, was a best-of-five-set affair. But Federer never pressed the matter.
Center Court has been Federer’s fiefdom since 2003, when he won the first of his seven Wimbledon titles. But midway through Sunday’s opening set, the Swiss champion found himself under siege.
Murray got the first service break and held serve in the next game with back-to-back aces. He claimed the opening set in 38 minutes.
And Federer’s struggles bled into the second set. Murray broke the Swiss at love in his first service game, in which Federer slammed a routine overhead into the net then blasted a cross-court backhand several feet beyond the baseline. The errors were so out of character, it was as if a weekend duffer had suddenly inhabited Federer’s body.
Meantime, Murray played tremendous defense, sprinting all over the court to retrieve balls that otherwise would have been winners.
As the prospect of victory moved inexorably beyond Federer’s grasp, his decision-making grew even hastier. It was odd to see Federer charge to the net behind ill-conceived approach shots. Time and again Murray made him pay with blistering passing shots.
Afterward, Federer praised Murray for a superior effort but conceded his own performance might have suffered from the mental and physical toll of his near exit in the first round and a record 4-hour 26-minute semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro, who Sunday defeated Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 6-4, to win the bronze.
“That’s the best I could have done this tournament,” said Federer, adding that he was proud to add a silver medal to the doubles gold he won at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I know that sounds strange, as people are so used to me wining and [think] only winning makes me happy. But I’m a happy tennis player, so a good result like this is obviously going to make me feel extremely proud and very happy.”
Said Murray: “I was expecting it to be an incredibly tough match. Every time I play him, especially in the tough matches, he has played so well and made it so difficult for me . . . But no way did I expect a score-line like that.”