Andy Murray ultimately brings order to an otherwise wild Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England -- Four thoughts after watching Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday to become -- all together now -- the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936.
• Murray's achieved a milestone. A year ago, Murray lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final and, before dissolving into tears, announced, "I'm getting closer." How right he was. Just four Sundays later at the All England Club, Murray defeated Federer to win the Olympic gold medal. Then a few weeks later, he won the U.S. Open. The ultimate victory finally came on Sunday.
"I've had a lot of tough losses, but the one thing I would say is I think every year I always improved a little bit," Murray said. "They weren't major improvements, massive changes, but every year my ranking was going in the right direction. I was always going a little bit further in the Slams. I kept learning and I just kept working as hard as I could."
• Murray had the better match. Absorbing the incomprehensible pressure, he played steady, poised, opportunistic and deceptively clever tennis. If this were a fight, one would say that Murray pressed the action; he dictated most rallies, and he extracted errors the way a dentist extracts teeth. He served better, returned better and hit better on the (many) close points.
In the third set, Murray broke Djokovic at 4-4. With an entire nation holding its breath, Murray served it out on his fourth match point. Cue: bedlam.
"Winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis," Murray said. "The last game almost increased that feeling. ... I worked so hard in that last game. [They were] the hardest few points I've had to play in my life."
Let's be clear: Murray was under more pressure here than any player has ever been at any event. And he's done it.
• Djokovic came up short. Djokovic, who was seeking his second Wimbledon crown and seventh major title, picked a bad time to play a strangely absent match. Losing his serve with regularity, missing routine balls and perhaps being slowed a step after a lengthy semifinal win, Djokovic played at something other than full force.
Against others, his B-game and his courage can be enough to get him through, but not against Murray. These two have played 19 times and in three of the last four major finals. Happily anticipate -- or steel yourself for -- many more meetings.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, I guess," Djokovic said. "I need to have that kind of mentality and move on. I'm still young, and hopefully I have more opportunities to win this title."
• This match will not be forgotten anytime soon. The impact of this convulsive match will resonate for a long time. Murray instantly becomes a British hero; knighthood is forthcoming. He has now reached the finals of five of the last six big events (including the Olympics) in the men's game, winning three of them. And more immediately, he made the ultimate order of an otherwise chaotic tournament.