The first British Wimbledon men’s singles champion since Fred Perry, overcame world number one Novak Djokovic in a less than straightforward three sets. The hottest day of the year so far in the UK (not saying much given the year we’ve had) saw the match start with brutal hitting and long rallies. Not unexpected, with two of the best defensive players in the game having both had tough matches in the last week, this was always going to require immense fortitude just to compete. This was a three set match that lasted well over three hours.
It was a match of break and break back. In the first set Murray broke for 2-1 but was broken back had to go again to break to take the first 6-4. In both the second and third sets Djokovic was a break up, only to be pegged back by a relentless Murray. In the second Murray managed to break for 6-5 and serve out the set. In the third Murray was 2-0 up, only to lose four games in a row, then took the next four to win the match.
Breaking for 5-4 and serving out the match was not the end of it. Bjorn Borg once described serving out the Wimbledon final in the fifth set as feeling that he could hardly lift his arm, yet Murray dispatched the first three points in straightforward fashion – to bring up three championship points. Almost at the point of celebration he was pegged back. Ask Federer about having match points against Djokovic – in his last two US Open semis against the Serb he has held match points only to lose. Murray must have only been too aware of Novak’s fighting qualities, as he created break points but he continued to play positively, taking each point as it came, to finally create his fourth match point, where Djokovic netted a backhand to give Murray the match.
The match was tight, with similar stats in most departments, however, one is revealing – Djokovic made nearly twice as many unforced errors as Murray (40 to 21), admitting after the match that he was Impatient, trying to shorten the points. The drop shot became a frequent ploy in the third set and, with both players feeling the heat, may have yielded more points but Murray is too good and quick a mover to be caught out regularly. It indicates that Djokovic was less prepared to battle it out than Murray, with such similar games this may have been Djokovic’s downfall.
This was a tough match for Murray in so many ways – primarily in playing and beating the number one player in the world but also with the expectations of a nation on him, he succeeded where so many have failed over the last 77 years.