Exactly 365 days ago Andy Murray stood on the Wimbledon Centre Court, battered, emotional and barely able to complete a tearful post-match interview at the end of a four sets loss against the great Roger Federer. His tears led to a wave of home support and sympathy; at his lowest point he well and truly succeeded in uniting the nation behind him for the first time in his career. Nevertheless, a gaping hole remained on his resume – his and indeed the nation’s goal of winning at least one of tennis’s four grand slam titles remained elusive. Fast forward a year later and Murray Mania is in full swing; the 77 year wait is over. The road to redemption that started with Murray overcoming Federer in a Wimbledon rematch to win an Olympic gold medal and outlast Djokovic for his maiden grand slam title at the U.S Open ended in triumph this afternoon and Britain rejoicing. Magical Murray now holds two of the four grand slams after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in an action filled, high intensity back court duel. A straight set win yes, yet anything but straightforward.
Djokovic and Murray’s encounters have gained a reputation for their intense physicality, the pair lived up to their billing once again on Centre Court this afternoon engaging in a number of energy sapping rallies in the match’s early stages . As soon as the first set commenced one thing became clear: Murray’s march to the title would not be easy; it would take guts, heart and confidence under pressure. Thankfully all these traits were present in a gritty display by the Scotsman. A tense opening set saw the pair trade breaks of serve before Murray took charge, slamming down an ace to take the opener 6-4. Djokovic’s attempts to play aggressive tennis with his normal laser like precision often fell short of the mark. Was he feeling the effects of his 4 hour 43 minute semi-final skirmish with Juan Martin Del-Potro or was he simply up against an inspired opponent on his way to rewriting the history books? The normally clinical Serb squandered a 4-2 lead in the second set to fall into a hole that from which there was no escape. Not since Henri Cochet in 1927 had a man overturned a 2 set deficit to clinch the title. He well and truly had his back against the wall, up against millions of expectant Britons, the record books and a determined foe. Rushing out to a 2-0 lead in what would be the final set; Murray looked ready to run away with the contest before the inevitable Djokovic fight back. In the whirlwind final few games Murray dropped his level of play drastically allowing Djokovic to reel off 4 straight games. The doubts began to creep in; maybe Britain would have to wait one more year. Andy didn’t think so. He drove a running forehand past Djokovic who stood stranded at the net after one of his many attempted drop shots to halt his opponents momentum and reclaim a break of serve before levelling the score at 4-4 and again breaking the Djokovic serve for a 5-4 lead .Then came the grandstand finish; in a way the final game summed up Murray’s rise to the pinnacle of his sport: long drawn out, difficult but ultimately worth it. A heart stopping final game saw Murray squander 3 Championship points before a netted Djokovic backhand on lucky number 4 secured a victory for the ages.
At last the numbers game is over; it took the world number 2 a hard fought 3 hours and 10 minutes to end 77 years of hurt in his 18th encounter with a worthy adversary. Today we saw the zenith of a sparkling 8 year career which saw the name Andy Murray etched in history as the first British Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936 – arise Sir Andy perhaps?