Andy Murray sat down at the sideline and sobbed. He’d won his second Wimbledon title. This one felt different.
“I [had] put so much pressure and stress on myself,” Murray told ESPN. “But, I feel as if I’m going to enjoy this one. I’ve had some tough losses at slams.”
We can imagine the pressure, but not know it. For any player. But for Murray it probably came from his own expectations and a press corps that had relentlessly chided him while he listened perhaps too closely. This time he came in as the favorite; and, he played like one, winning decisively 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(2) over Milos Raonic of Canada (No. 6).
“It’s the the most important tournament for me all year,” Murray said on court, hugging the trophy that’s inscribed, The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World.
Today’s front page of The Observer, one of Britain’s many tabloids.
“Weather terrible, sterling tumbling, politics dismal, Euro flops (not Wales), Brexit coming, recession looming … Andy please cheer us up.“
Murray had lost his past three slam finals to Novak Djokovic: Australian Open – 2015, 2016 and Roland Garros, 2016. Today he faced a man who had never played a major final and represented the next generation, meaning Murray was not up against any of the elite who had won majors for over a decade. In fact this was the first Wimbledon final since 2002 without Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Raonic, therefore, was going breakthroughs of historic nature. No one born since 1989 has won a slam, Masters 1000, or an ATP World Tour final.
“It’s a difficult challenge,” Raonic said on court. “He deserves to be [the] winner here for a second time. Congratulations to Andy.”
Murray’s decision after Paris to bring back Ivan Lendl made a difference for the Scot, as well. He’s 12-0 since, including today’s result. Under Lendl’s coaching Murray won his two other majors: 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 U. S. Open.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Murray said, tennishead.com reported. “I obviously had the best years of my career with him. I wanted to work with Ivan again to try to help me with these events.”
Murray’s back had caused much distress for 18 months, during their first coaching tour. In late September, 2013, he chose surgery. It was categorized as minor, but other reports said a disc was the focus. Murray never clarified the situation. He returned to work in Melbourne the following year and scooted through to the quarterfinals.
“The year after the back surgery was tough,” Murray said, after the awards’ presentation. “You expect to be back [immediately] but it took me 9 to 12 months before I felt good. It took time to build my confidence.”
That confidence overflowed on Centre Court today.
He connected with 7 aces to Raonic’s 8, a paltry number considering he hit 23 against Federer in the semifinal. But you can blame Murray’s return of serve, which jams up the best mentally and physically. Murray won 32% of points when receiving compared to Raonic’s 23%. Late in the match Raonic pounded returns deep to Murray’s feet, yet they came back and won points. Both players had 39 winners, but Murray’s unforced error count was 12 to Raonic’s 29. That comparison alone tells us that Raonic could not impose his game on the eventual champion.
Fastest Serve of Tournament
Milos Raonic cracked the fastest serve — 147 MPH — at Wimbledon this year, during the final. It’s the second fastest recorded at this Grand Slam, too. The fastest serve belongs to American Taylor Dent at 148 MPH
“Every time you play him, you know he’s going to get more returns back than anyone else, along with Novak,” Raonic said later, according to BBC Sport on Twitter.
Roanic’s performance in both tiebreaks were less than expected from the big man. In addition to his ace count missing, his forehands misfired and Murray’s cross-court backhand angled shots thwarted Raonic at the net. Although his newly hired coach, John McEnroe, has encouraged the Canadian to use his height and wing span at the net, Raonic was not intuitively ready to do just that in a slam final.
The court conditions also favored Murray due to his superior balance, foot speed and anticipation. Rain threatened to call up the roof, but weather gods prevailed with sun and puffy white clouds although the wind was a bit brisk. Given it was the 14th straight day of dimpled tennis shoes digging up the baseline and at least five days of sun, Centre Court played more like a fast, hard court … firm. “Footing on dirt easier when it’s all green not dirt,” commented former U. S. Open tennis champion Andy Roddick on periscope.com.
Murray’s ascension has taken time. He is 29. Some would think he has a lot of work to do to meet expectations of his inclusion in the so-called big four. His Grand Slam count surely stands in the shadows – Federer (17); Nadal (14); Djokovic (12); Murray (3).
“The guys I am playing against are, according to some, the 3 best players ever,” Murray said, Inside Tennis tweeted. “My best tennis is in front of me.”
Murray would like to spend time with his family, in celebration. They are, in part, another reason he has found his way to the spotlight more.
“Having a daughter changes your perspective on things,” Murray said after the match. “It’s a nice distraction. I want to make her proud. Hopefully she’ll be proud of this some day.”
In the Royal Box today were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch and his wife. Both Royalty and movie stars had chances to chat with Murray minutes after all the awards had been given. Murray asked Cumberbatch if new Sherlock episodes were coming soon. The answer was positive. Murray pumped his fist as he kept a solid hold on his shiny new trophy.