77 years on 7-7-2013
Andy Murray beat World no. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets to become the first Brit in 77 years (since Fred Perry) in 1936 to win Wimbledon. This was his second Wimbledon final in a row, after going down in 4 sets to Federer last year.
Murray is now the title-holder of the US Open, the Olympic singles title as well as Wimbledon- by far his best 12 months of his career. The 26 year old Scot rode the ecstatic wave of support on Center Court for two entire weeks- coming back from the brink in the quarterfinals against Verdasco and never looking back. He saved his best for the final, cementing himself as the best grasscourt player in the world over two years. He has now won Queens 2 years in a row, reached both Wimbledon finals and even won the grasscourt Olympic title at the same venue last year. If Lendl thought grass was for cows, he has made sure his new protégé didn’t believe the same, pushing him on grass harder than any other surface- with Murray now making the finals of the last 4 slams (excluding this year’s French Open) he has played.
These are cold hard numbers that prove that the Scot is now clearly one of the best two players in World Tennis at the moment- with Djokovic holding an edge only because of his stellar play on Clay. Murray, in order to become one of the greats of this era, needs to take up the claycourt season as a serious challenge from now on- with Roland Garros being the only Slam where he hasn’t even reached the last 4. Greats like Nadal, Federer developed themselves into all-court players with a clear favorite surface- and while Murray is close to unbeatable on the hard courts and grass, he is not even in the top 10 on clay. With Nadal struggling with injuries through the year- it could be the Brit’s rivalry with Djokovic that begins to take centre stage in world tennis- with both having won 2 each in the four finals they have faced eachother- over the last 6 Majors.
The Serb finally seems susceptible, with his game often breaking against the variety and defense of Murray over 5 sets- despite winning the Australian Open in January against him this year. Djokovic never really got going on Sunday, despite starting as overwhelming favorite after dismissing strong players like Haas, Berdych and Del Potro (in an epic) over the course of the tournament. Murray, in contrast, hadn’t faced a top-10 player through Wimbledon till the final. The early exit of Federer and Nadal got the entire nation excited, with Murray’s path to the final partially cleared- and hence the hiccup in the quarterfinal was what he needed to be tested before his mighty final with the Serb.
Murray’s claycourt ability and challenge can wait for another day, and the World no. 2 can enjoy the biggest achievement of his career for now. His relentless pursuit of Wimbledon has finally ended Britain’s wait for a new Champion- after decades of hurt and Tim Henman.
Murray can challenge for the top spot later this year, but he has his US Open title to defend first. Even if he finally does achieve the no. 1 ranking soon, it will be tough for him to maintain it through a calender year like Djokovic and Nadal have done- because the claycourt season is longer than the grasscourt season. Ironically enough, his decision to miss this year’s French Open has resulted in him being fresher and sharper than ever on grass- in stark contrast to rival Nadal who works towards the French Open, often breaking down after that.
While celebrities like Bradley Cooper, Gerard Butler and Keith Richards looked on tensely, and with Prime Minister Cameron intent on proving that his ‘wishes’ to Murray weren’t the kiss of death, Murray dominated play over the 3 hours- with some brutal rallies from the baseline, feeding off the Serb’s unforced errors. Dunblane, his hometown in Scotland, became the happiest place in Britain by the end of play- with their new scowling hero now scaling dizzy heights in the most competitive era of men’s tennis.

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