Andy Murray beat top seed Novak Djokovic at his own game to clinch his first Wimbledon title.
The second-seeded Murray won 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 against the 2011 champion yesterday on a hot, sunny day on Centre Court.
“I understand how much everyone wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon so I hope you enjoyed it,” said Murray, last year’s runnerup. “I tried my best.” ’
The 26-year-old from Dunblane, Scotland, is the first British man to take the singles championship on the London lawns since Fred Perry, who won Wimbledon in 1936 during the short reign of Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle. Perry’s statue stands next to Centre Court. Virginia Wade was the last British player to clinch the women’s title, in 1977.
“Even when I was putting my first serves in, he was always getting them back in the court and making me play an extra shot,” said Serbia’s Djokovic, one of the best movers in tennis with a game built on athleticism, defensive shots and accuracy. “That’s why he won this tournament.”
Murray, who broke through for his first tennis Grand Slam title at last year’s U.S. Open, struck 36 winners, five more than six-time major champion Djokovic. Murray was also more accurate, making 21 unforced errors while Djokovic had 40.
The final was watched by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron from the royal box, as well as a record television audience in the U.K.
In a first set full of long baseline rallies, play went with serve until 3-3 after both players got broken early on. The crowd roared loudly as Murray broke for 4-3 before serving out the set 6-4.
In the second, both men put on caps as temperatures reached 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). Djokovic was a point away from a 5-2 lead when Murray cracked a backhand return winner and broke on a double fault.
Murray took the lead for the first time in the set at 6-5 after another unforced error by Djokovic, a netted forehand. Murray clenched his fist as he won the set in the next game with a 125 miles-per-hour ace (200 kph).
“Didn’t play on the top of my abilities, and with this kind of game I didn’t have a chance to win,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic, whose 4 hour, 45 minute semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro was an All England Club record, continued to struggle at the start of the third set as Murray set up a break point with a backhand passing shot off a high-bouncing volley.
After breaking on an unforced error, Murray held to love to take a 2-0 lead. Djokovic then won four straight games to lead 4-2 before Murray broke back with a powerful forehand that drew an error and tied it at 4-4 on his own serve.
After breaking again to lead 5-4, Murray squandered three match points. He then saved three break points before winning his fourth match point, which he took after guessing correctly on a Djokovic smash and hitting a backhand that wasn’t returned.
After shaking hands with Djokovic and some members of the crowd, Murray knelt on the court as his mother Judy cried in the player’s box.
Murray eventually made it to his family and friends, greeting his coach Ivan Lendl. Murray started back toward the court before his mother’s squeals reminded him that he’d forgotten her.
“I was glad I managed to see all of my team,” Murray said. “They saw what it was like last year after the match. It was a completely different feeling this year. This one will take a little while to sink in.”
Murray lost last year’s Wimbledon final in four sets to Roger Federer, who has a record 17 major singles titles.
Djokovic had beaten Murray 11 of the 18 times they played before yesterday, including a victory in the final of January’s Australian Open.
“It makes it all more impressive,” Djokovic said. “I know the pressure that is on him. I gave it all. It was a pleasure and honor to be part of this final.”
The pair, who are a week apart in age and have known each other since they were juniors, only played on grass once before, at last year’s Olympics. Murray said his straight-sets win then boosted his confidence for yesterday’s final.
Murray also credited Lendl, who won eight majors but not Wimbledon.
“He believed in me when a lot of people didn’t,” Murray said. “He stuck by me through obviously some tough losses the last couple of years. He’s been very patient with me. I’m just happy I managed to do it for him.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at Wimbledon through the London sports desk at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com