After 77 years without a home champion at Wimbledon, Andy Murray cured the British heartache in a straight sets victory taking just three hours and nine minutes. It was a very bumpy road to the final for Andy, as it took a five sets to beat veteran Fernando Verdasco. We were feeling worried at two sets as the Spaniard had won them both, although in a tightly fought fashion. However, the US Open Champion fought back to win it 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5. After that, we were worried how he’d fair against up-and-coming Pole Jerzy Janowicz – the first Polish player ever in the Wimbledon semi-finals, after coming through an all Polish quarter-final! The first set was close, but the Brit looked a but lazy in the tie-break, leading to him losing it 7-6 (7-2), yet the occasional break in the following three sets was enough to place him in his second straight Wimbledon final; the final score being 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. You can read more about his route to the final here.
But on to the final itself. It was the final we had all hoped for. It was a final between number one and number two – the 2011 champion and the 2012 runner-up – the best rivalry in tennis. It wasn’t as mental a match as many had expected, but more focused on power resulting in long baseline rallies – one of my favourite elements of the sport. Some highlights of this historic match are just below:
Murray started the match on fire, as he immediately got three break points, although partially due to Djokovic’s plethora of unforced errors. The rest of the set was excellent for the Brit, holding his first service game service game to love, with two aces – producing a further three throughout the course of the opener. In the Djoker’s second service game, Murray took his chance with astounding sprinting on his seventh break point of the match. Murray played some amazing tennis later in the set as well, sprinting from the baseline to return impossible drop-shots – leading him to another break. The final few games were rather careless from both players, but Murray served it out to win 6-4.
The next set maintained the status quo, with a tight contest, yet Djokovic was very poor at the net – as Andrew Castle said: “It gives every club player hope when the world number one misses a shot like that,” as he missed an easy game point. However, the pendulum swung back to Djokovic in Murray’s second service game of the set, with lots of unforced errors into the net costing the Scot a break. Great serving from both players followed, until a double fault on Andy’s break point gave the home favourite the seventh game, followed by an angry Andy just managing holding serve after squandering a 30-0 lead. However, the important fact was is that he’s now level in the set at 4-4, and with lots of good winners from the Brit we were looking up. For the remainder of the set it was very close, but in the end it was probably a poor call from the line judge that decided this set. The ball was called in on the baseline from Murray’s forehand whereas hawk-eye showed it was in fact clearly out. Yet Djokovic had no challenges remaining and he really lost his temper, it almost reminded me of John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious!” Andy took the set 7-5.
In the third, and final, set, Murray started as he almost did in the first, with an immediate break. He had “an answer to everything” (Andrew Castle) as he dived from side to side in a couple of fantastic net rallies. Murray dominated the next few games, yet the odd sparkle from the top seed – mixed in with a lot of unforced errors, meant they continued to hold serve. However, as Djokovic began to tire, he realized Murray might not be able to sprint from the baseline to the net on every point, so hit a string of about three drop shots, each executed perfectly and he took his first break point. More unforced errors (the Serb’s total for the match was 40, compared to 21 for the Briton) allowed Murray to break back, hold, break again and serving for the after great backhands down the baseline he found himself with three championship points. A lot of power got the no.1 back to deuce, and after several more deuces it was still anyone’s game. It was almost starting to look like a Tommy Haas scenario, when the Djoker netted the ball and Murray had won!
It was a terrific match, and I’m not sure if we can pick any other for a future Wimbledon ‘Classic Match of the Week‘. The first British player EVER, to win the British Open. What an achievement, and I think Ivan Llendl even smiled. Murray said that his post-match speech was “a lot easier than last year” and this time he had the crowd with him the whole way through, which may have played on the min of Novak – hearing the roof come off the stadium whenever he committed one of those unforced errors. Still, Murray played excellent tennis, and he may have been partially helped by the home support, but he certainly wouldn’t have had that if not for last year’s Wimbledon final, the Olympics, and more recently and Queen’s Club. You can see the post-match speech of the British sporting legend below.
An MBE by the next Championships? – Jacob Lee