The 26-year-old Scottish tennis star Andy Murray beat the world’s No. 1-ranked player, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, in straight sets to win the Wimbledon men’s singles championship Sunday. It was the first Wimbledon victory for a British man in 77 years, and it triggered massive celebrations across a United Kingdom that had been collectively holding its breath. [Editor's note: The original version incorrectly said British player, not specifying gender.]
The 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory was much closer than the score indicated. While Murray won the first set fairly handily he had to fight back from a 1-4 game deficit in the second set and a 2-4 deficit in the third.
The last game was indicative of the whole set and may go down as one of the greatest and most nerve-racking ever played in a Wimbledon final. Murray quickly reached 40-love on points and the brink of victory via several Djokovic errors and a big first serve.
But then England trembled.
Djokovic put away a forehand after a long rally to pull to 40-15. The Serb pounded a short second serve from Murray for a winner to reach 40-30. The score was tied at deuce after Murray sent a backhand long.
Twice Djokovic forced break point, the second time via an astounding angled drop shot. Murray saved both, but was the tide turning? Djokovic is a master of comebacks and it seemed he was turning up his game.
But Djokovic failed to put away an overhead and Murray had his advantage. After a long rally with both players all-out Djokovic netted a backhand and it was over.
“I have no idea what happened on that last point,” admitted a dazed Murray on-court after the Duke of York awarded him the coveted trophy.
The last Brit to take Wimbledon was the great Fred Perry in 1936. Perry won a career Grand Slam, adding wins at the French, Australian, and US championships to his Wimbledon crown during his career. But eventually he became disillusioned with Britain, moved to the United States, and became a naturalized US citizen. He served in the US military during World War II.
For a time in the 1970s it seemed Britain’s John Lloyd might break his nation’s Wimbledon drought. In 1977 he became the first Brit to reach the final of a Grand Slam in the open tournament era at the Australian Open. But he lost to New York’s own Vitas Gerulaitis in five sets and never got that close to a major championship win again. Today he may be best remembered as US tennis legend Chris Evert’s first husband.
Murray has long been seen as the best British player since Perry. He lost the Wimbledon final last year to Roger Federer and tearfully told the crowd he was “getting closer.”
Today he made good on that assessment. For Britain it may be the greatest moment in international sports since 1966, when the country hosted soccer’s World Cup and the English home squad won in a thrilling match against West Germany that was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation.
England scored twice in extra time to set off a national party.