Andy Murray choked back the tears as he claimed his second Wimbledon title in ruthless fashion. Murray proved an unstoppable force as he secured a 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 victory over Canada’s Milos Raonic, a player of undoubted talent whose time will surely come.
It’s his third major title but this was more impressive than his victory in the 2012 US Open or here at the All England Club three years ago, with just two sets dropped in the last fortnight. “This is the most important tournament for me, I’ve had some great moments here and some tough losses, which make the wins feel extra special and I’m proud to get my hands on this trophy again,” said Murray. “I played really good stuff today but he’s had a great few weeks on the grass and has some unbelievable wins. He’s such a hard worker and every time I play him, he’s made big improvements. “I’ve got to thank all my team for the hard work they’ve put in and all my family too. I’m going to make sure I enjoy this now, last time I felt so much relief and pressure that perhaps I didn’t.” This was a step into the unknown for Raonic, his first major final, but something new for Murray too.
In his ten previous Grand Slam final appearances he’d always been the underdog and faced either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, with their 29 combined titles, across the net. The Canadian had lost his previous five matches against Murray but was up a set and a break up in their most recent encounter at Queen’s Club last month – a match in which the world number two showed his trademark stubborn streak and staged a fighting comeback to win. Raonic unsurprisingly seemed a little overawed as he walked on court but he soon settled his early nerves, although Murray always seemed to have more answers to his questions.
His victory three years ago lifted the weight of history off himself and British tennis – 77 years of hurt evaporated and Fred Perry was finally replaced as the answer to the quiz question, who was the last British man to win Wimbledon? But this match was played under the equally crushing burden of personal and public expectation. However, Murray has rarely looked more focussed or determined as he put Raonic under almost immediate pressure. Every part of his game seemed to be functioning at 100%, especially his service return, while it’s always hard to beat a player who makes just 12 unforced errors.
Between changeovers he consulted his notes, made with coach Ivan Lendl, eagerly cramming like a student on the school bus to their A-levels. And it was destined to be an exam passed with flying colours. Raonic’s name is universally pre-faced with big serving but it wasn’t until 36 minutes into the match that he managed to fire an ace past his Scottish rival. Murray finally broke his opponent for the first and only time in the seventh game and then closed out the first set in 44 minutes, letting out a roar of ‘let’s go’ in the direction of his players’ box. Murray looked to hammer home that early advantage in the second set but Raonic wasn’t about to be rolled over, as both players held their serves under the most intense pressure. At one point he even banged down an seemingly unstoppable 147mph rocket – the fastest serve of the tournament – and still lost the point, underlining Murray’s remarkable defensive display.
But the second set moved towards an inevitable tie-break, something that shouldn’t have worried the number six seed, who had won five of the six career breakers these two have played. However, Murray’s big occasion experience proved decisive and he raced to a five-point advantage before closing out the second set with a 7-3 tie-break win. Raonic had come from two sets down to beat David Goffin earlier in the tournament while he was also trailing 2-1 in his semi-final against Roger Federer – but Murray, in this form, was surely a different prospect.
And if one point could sum up the match, it was the exchange at 0-0, 2-1 in the third set on Raonic’s serve. He tried to dictate, booming down a trademark big serve and then sending Murray scurrying from side to side across the court but the Scot still found the time and space to hit the winner. The match was well over two hours old before Murray had to defend break points on his serve – he duly saved them both and you knew then that Raonic’s chance had gone. The third set also went to a tie-break and once again Murray dominated it, winning it 7-2 to claim his third Grand Slam title.
By James Toney, at Wimbledon – Sportsbeat 2016 –