Today was a lose/lose situation for Andy Murray. He was facing the best player in the world ever in a home tournament where he could - theoretically – have ended Britain's search for a Grand Slam trophy. And as every Englishman knows, Murray is a man who can even turn a win/win situation to his own disadvantage, right?
Wrong. Murray may not have done the impossible in beating the Emperor of tennis but he did achieve the unthinkable in winning over the hearts of a nation.
In a venue that stands for everything he is not – neatness, suavity, privilege and the establishment – Andy Murray produced an unchoreographed and inspirational performance that overshadowed even a record-breaking feat by Wimbledon’s best-loved champion.
It was like a scene from Gladiator. The plucky Celt, after beating off a few worthy but expendable challengers, was brought onto the stage in a battle the promoters had billed as deciding the future of the empire. He was supposed to spit and curse defiantly before surrendering meekly to be spared to fight another day only by the magnanimous and forgiving crowd.
But Murray hadn’t read the script. He came out with confidence and gusto, keen to win every point, not just stay in them. This was a figure that bore no resemblance to the mumbling, muttering, awkward, overgrown teenager that BBC viewers had come to know, often begrudgingly, as their number 1.
Even so, Murray was not to find redemption in victory, that would have been too easy. Once Federer awakened to the threat and raised his game it became clear that he had too much for his challenger: too much skill, too much power, too much authority. As we’ve seen before, he seemed to float above the court effortlessly hitting the lines or dropping the ball over the net.
In chasing shadows, Murray slipped and fell heavily. For a few moments he lay on the turf and in front rooms around the country the munching of Pringles was interrupted by an echo of the criticisms of his detractors. “This is where he pretends to be injured,” or “First it was his shorts, now he’s bound to start blaming his shoes.”
There was the barest hint of angry fire in his eyes as he regained his feet but a couple of points later he was throwing himself – heroically, not despairingly - across the court to chase another thunderbolt fired from whatever mountain the Swiss gods live on.
The brilliance which he showed in the first and second sets and the bravery of the third and fourth would have been enough to dispel any negative headlines from the thoughts of Fleet Street subs. But what happened next was truly extraordinary. Barely had Roger Federer lifted the trophy when a microphone was thrust into Murray’s face and his pain and disappointment was exposed to the scrutiny of millions of strangers.
This was the time for shifty, uncomfortable Andy, whose eyes glance furtively anywhere except for into the camera, as though looking for a means to escape. Instead we were presented with a human being who did what he felt was right even when every sinew of his body was urging him to run off and hide.
He’d endured the spotlight for more than a month but spoke with heartfelt thanks to the people on whose behalf he had been hounded and persecuted by camera crews and flashbulbs. Time and again he broke down but refused to give up. Suddenly it occurred that Andy Murray needed and deserved our sympathy, wanted our approval.
It had never occurred before that his failure to deliver the honours that our proud history and, well, general Britishness so richly deserved was a matter of any personal angst on his part.
Then the penny dropped.
After a gripping Wimbledon men's final, Mark Philippoussis assesses what Murray and Federer will take from today's match.
DId Andy Murray fail? No, not at all. He couldn't have done anything more. Nothing went wrong. Andy Murray came out with a weight of expectation upon him, played some of the best tennis of his life and he can be proud of that.
So near but yet so far: Andy Murray played well but ultimately came up short against an incredible opponent
He took the pressure of a home crowd and all his family watching and turned it into a strength.
OK, it still wasn’t good enough over the match but that’s why Federer’s world number one, and deservedly so.
Roger simply took his game onto the next level. Could it have gone differently? Perhaps. There was one moment in the second set where Murray had a break-point for 5-4. That would have given him the chance to serve for the set and really put him in the box seat. Instead it just brought the best out of Federer who never really looked back, and that's what true champions do.
People keep on asking of Roger Federer ‘Can he keep going?’ Well he’s answered them today in the same fashion he answers them every time. The way he plays there’s no end in sight. He’s world number one, he has seven WImbledon titles and he proved today that he still has the appetite to claim more.
Not only was his tennis on a different level but he also showed he’s got the fight and the stamina to defeat a fiercely competitive challenger so he can keep going as long as he can hold a racquet.
Andy will be disappointed right now. Two weeks of the Championships is a long emotional journey to go through, especially when it's your home tournament. Having said that, he will wake up tomorrow very proud of himself and aware that there’s no reason why he can’t go on and bridge that gap that separates him from the top three.
Roger Federer, eh? He’s pretty good at tennis isn’t he? After winning his maiden Grand Slam at the tender age of 22, he has continued to play at an unbelievably high level for just short of a decade and shows no sign of stopping. But how? He and David Ferrer are the only players inside the top ten who are north of 28 and Fed is the oldest Grand Slam winner since Pete Sampras in 2002.
Tennis is increasingly becoming a young man’s game, with the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Isner making their mark very young and staying there. Rog is crashing that group like a father at his offspring’s 18th trying to keep up with the Jaegerbombs and succeeding.
Federer is a throwback to the 20th Century style of tennis which was all serve-volley, one –handed backhands and fast serves. Nowadays there is much more impact on power groundstrokes, scampering across the baseline and accuracy out wide but Fed can still mix it with the young’uns by simply being exceptional at tennis.
He has devastating accuracy with his forehand, beating all those baseline scamperers, fast and accurate serving and is comfortable anywhere on the court, confusing the baseline rally merchants.
He also keeps in great condition. He plays the barest minimum of tournaments, similarly to Serena Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Lance Armstrong who save themselves for the marquee sporting events.
Surfaces have changed in his time, with grass slowing down and clay speeding up, so many of the tournaments are becoming alike, but he has adapted his game to sit more often at the baseline to great effect.
Federer has marginally adapted his style to the challenges of changing surfaces and changing players, but what has remained constant is that delightful swatted backhand, flowing locks and bulging trophy cabinet. He hasn't really had to do much because he has pretty much the most complete game of any player ever, but what he has had to do he has done with ease.
This win has returned Fed to the top of the world rankings and it would take a strong person to bet against him staying there for a while, given that his second-favourite Grand Slam is up next.
The young guns may be snapping at his heels, but there’s fight in the old Rog yet.
With the BBC showing repeated images of Judy Murray during her son's big day at Wimbledon, many viewers decided to Tweet their distress.
@paddypower commented: Can't shake the thought that if Andy Murray wins, Judy will swoop down onto court and regurgitate a dead mouse for him.
@Jackshankly talked about: All the darkness of Judy Murray's soul
@sluicesnorky shared: Judy murray looks like skelator!
@opheliasbrother spoke for a nation: Help! I can't find the 'No Judy Murray' option on the red button.
All the pundits are saying that serving is the most important aspect of today's final, with both men having a fast, accurate serve as one of their most potent weapons.
However, both are also considered to be among the finest returners of the game, so it could be a case f the unstoppable force meeting the immoveable object.
So how do the two men stack up? Here's the vital statistics.
Points won off second serve
Points won from opponent's first serve
Points won from opponent's second serve
Break points won
- 1 Point for every lame montage in the build-up
- 1 Point for the phrase "weight of history"
- 1 Point for the word "Fred Perry", "1936" or"76 years"
- 1 Point every time we hear of Andy Murray's "destiny"
- 1 Point for every time we are told that "Federer is the greatest player in the history of the game
- 1 Point per celebrity pointed out in the crowd
- 5 Points for each one you recognise
- 5 Points for Tim Henman telling us how Murray will feel walking out at a Wimbledon final
- 5 Points for Sue Barker telling us that "our dream is for Andy to win Wimbledon"
- 10 Points for Murray swearing at Lendl
- 10 Points for Murray swearing at Judy Murray
- 15 Points for Murray crying at the end, win or lose
- 20 Points for Mock The Week tearing Murray apart on its next show
Today, as Roger Federer seeks to extend his legacy, we take a look at the record of all time top men's grand slam wins:
The largely unknown Jonathan Marray will today be the first Briton in 52 years to play in the men’s doubles finals at Wimbledon.
The last to make it were Mike Davies and Bobby Wilson in 1960.
The last time it was won by British players was 1936 when Pat Hughes played alongside Raymond Tuckey.
As he begins his quest for Wimbledon victory we take a look at Britain's latest promising doubles player:
Current base: Sheffield
Highest doubles ranking: 76
Highest singles ranking: 215
Wimbledon tournaments: Played 10
Best Wimbledon doubles performance: 3rd round (2007, 2009)
Doubles partner: Frederik Nielsen (Denmark). The two have only played together in three previous tournaments.
Heading into today's final Marray spoke of his dream to win at Wimbledon:
“Winning a trophy at Wimbledon is why I play tennis.
"I’ve loved tennis all my life, and if this encourages a few more people back home to pick up a tennis racket then I’d be delighted. Quite a few people in and around Sheffield already play but it would be great if we could get a few more out there.”
The world's most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps, makes his first return to competitive swimming after the 2012 games in London.
Date 11 mins ago, Duration 1:24, Views 0
Who do you think will replace David Moyes at Manchester United?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- Jurgen Klopp
- Carlos Queiroz
- Ryan Giggs
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Gary Neville
- Louis Van Gaal
- Pep Guardiola
- Jose Mourinho
- Diego Simeone