The crowds inside Centre Court and on Henman Hill were anticipating history being made for Great Britain during the gentlemen’s final at Wimbledon Sunday afternoon. However, it was Roger Federer making history as he won his seventh Wimbledon title defeating Scotland’s Andy Murray in four sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Federer won his 17th career major singles title, but his first in two and a half years. Federer joined William Renshaw and Pete Sampras as the only seven-time winners at the All England Club, adding to his triumphs in 2003-2007 and 2009. His last major title came in 2010 at the Australian Open, where he defeated Murray in straight sets.
Federer returned to World No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Monday equaling another mark held by Sampras with 286 non-consecutive weeks at the top. Federer, who turns 31 in August, is the first 30-plus men’s Grand Slam winner since Andre Agassi, at 32, captured the 2003 Australian Open and the second oldest to Agassi, at 33, to hold the top ranking. Federer was dethroned from the top spot by Rafael Nadal on June 7, 2010.
Federer is clearly a crowd favorite no matter where he goes in the world and that did not change during Sunday’s final. But, the crowd in attendance was clearly pulling for Andy Murray. Murray was looking to become the first man to win the singles crown at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
All that pressure was finally revealed by Murray during the award ceremony. When the 25-year old Scot took the microphone, the crowd erupted and Murray broke down in tears along with his mom and many others in the stadium. Murray thanked everyone from his team to the fans.
“Last of all to you guys,” Murray said as he began to choke up again.” Everybody talks about the pressure of playing at Wimbledon, how tough it is. It’s not the people watching; they make it so much easier to play. The support has been wonderful. Thank you.”
Murray along with so many players arrived during an era where Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal have dominated the sport for so many years. Murray has lost for the fourth time in a major final, having finished runner-up to Federer at the 2008 US Open, at the 2010 Australian Open, at Wimbledon 2012, and to Novak Djokovic at the 2011 Australian Open.
Murray shares a mark with his legendary coach Ivan Lendl. Murray and Lendl are the only two men in the open era to lose their first four major finals. Lendl went onto win eight Grand Slam Singles titles, but not Wimbledon. Murray will look to write the same script as Lendl did.
This final was by far Murray’s best effort in a final. In his previous three finals, Murray did not win a set. Murray took the opening set off the six time champion. He had his chances to take a commanding two set to none lead, but in true fighting spirit Federer willed his way to take the second set.
The turning point of the match came during the sixth game of the third set. Murray, who was serving up 40-0, was forced to save five break points with some big serves. But, Federer proved to be relentless, and in a 19-minute game featuring 10 deuces, he wore down Murray, to break for a 4-2 lead, after Murray hit a slice backhand into the net.
This was the first final to be played with the roof closed on Centre Court. The match started as an outdoor event, but when the rain came with Federer serving at 1-1, 40-0, the officials decided to close the roof. Federer, who was 16-0 last season, and 25-1 since losing at Paris in November of 2010 was not sure if the indoor conditions were to his benefit until after the match was over.
“I’m happy that closing the roof maybe helped me today, because I was not sure if that was going to help me or not,” Federer said. He went onto say, “Today was unique because of playing Andy. Obviously, being able to play or finish a match under the roof, I don’t think that’s ever been done before here for a final. So that’s been different as well. I’m happy I got the victory, but obviously it was very, very special.”
Many people wondered if Federer would ever win another Grand Slam Singles title, let alone return to the world number one after squandering two match points against Djokovic in the 2010 and 2011 US Open semifinals. However, Federer and his team believed that he could win majors again especially his coach Paul Annacone.
Paul Annacone, who worked with Pete Sampras from 1995 until he officially retired in 2003, could not put a number on how many more majors Federer could win. Annacone believes Federer is fresher mentally than Sampras was at his stage of his career.
“Roger is much more in the middle of his career at 31 than Pete was, Annacone said. “Roger just loves the game loves the life. His life is the road. He loves it. His family loves it. He loves tennis. He loves who he’s become. And I think Pete, with all due respect, at that was a little bit tired.”
For Murray, it is another setback in his career, but many people around the tennis world believe Murray’s time will come and he will win a Grand Slam singles title one day.
Note: After a record seven consecutive Wimbledon finals from 2003-09, winning the first six, Federer lost in the quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011