LONDON — Andy Murray needed one more point, one solitary point, to win Wimbledon — a title he yearned to earn for himself, of course, and also for his country.
Great Britain had endured 77 years since one of its own claimed the men’s singles trophy at the revered tournament referred to simply as The Championships, and now here was Murray, on the brink of triumph after 3 hours of grueling tennis against top-seeded Novak Djokovic under a vibrant sun at Centre Court.
Up 40-love, Murray failed to convert his first match point. And his second. And then, yes, his third, too. On and on the contest, and accompanying tension, stretched, Murray unable to close it, Djokovic unwilling to yield, the minutes feeling like hours to those playing and those watching. Along came three break points for Djokovic, all erased. Finally, on Murray’s fourth chance to end it, Djokovic dumped a backhand shot into the net.
The final was over.
The wait was over.
A year after coming oh-so-close by losing in the title match at the All England Club, the No.2-ranked Murray beat No. 1 Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to become Wimbledon’s champion in a test of will and skill between a pair of men with mirror-image defensive styles that created lengthy points brimming with superb shots.
“That last game will be the toughest game I’ll play in my career. Ever,” said Murray, who was born in Dunblane, Scotland, and is the first British man to win the grass-court Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry in 1936. “Winning Wimbledon — I still can’t believe it.”
For several seasons, Murray was the outsider looking in, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 Grand Slam titles.
Now Murray has clearly turned the Big 3 into a Big 4, having reached the finals at the last four major tournaments he entered (he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a bad back). And he’s now a two-time Grand Slam champion, having defeated Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open in September.
All this from a guy who lost his first four major finals, including against Federer at Wimbledon in 2012. After that defeat, Murray’s voice cracked and tears rolled as he told the crowd, “I’m getting closer.”
How prescient. Four weeks later, on the same court, he beat Federer for a gold medal at the London Olympics, a transformative victory if ever there was one. And 52 weeks later, on the same court, he beat Djokovic for the Wimbledon championship.
“You need that self-belief in the important moments,” said Djokovic, a six-time major champion, “and he’s got it now.”
Murray trailed 4-1 in the second set and 4-2 in the third, before wiggling his way back in front each time.
He won the last four games, breaking for a 5-4 lead when Djokovic flubbed a forehand, setting off a standing ovation and applause that lasted more than a full minute. When he got out of his changeover chair, preparing to serve for the title, an earsplitting roar accompanied his trek to the baseline.
Djokovic missed a backhand, Murray smacked a backhand winner and added a 131 mph service winner, and suddenly one point was all that remained between him and history. That’s where things got a tad complicated.
Any of Djokovic’s break points in that game would have made it 5-all, and who knows what toll that would have taken on Murray?
After the final point, Murray dropped his neon-red racket, yanked his white hat off and pumped both fists overhead, screaming, “Yes! Yes!”
“It’s hard. It’s really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it’s been very, very tough, very stressful,” Murray said. “It’s just kind of everywhere you go. It’s so hard to avoid everything because of how big this event is, but also because of the history and no Brit having won.”