The setting was the same. Only the opponent was different. A year back on the beautiful Centre Court at All England Club, when Andy Murray was defeated by the great champ, Roger Federer, he was reduced to tears. By lifting the cup in 2012, Roger not only won his 17th Grand Slam but broke the hearts of British spectators who had come to see one of their own lift the cup after years and years of wait. In 2012, Andy Murray had become the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final since Henry Austin in 1938. And he was hoping to become the first man to win the championship since Fred Perry in 1936.
There was the British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with a host of celebrities cheering for Murray. And not to forget millions of spectators who were watching the game on television. But it was not to be and Roger walked away with cup but not before he predicted a Wimbledon win for Murray. Roger`s words came true when on July 07, 2013 when Murray created history by becoming the first British man in 77 years to win the prestigious title - truly one of the greatest moment in the history of British sports. Predictably the whole Centre Court was on their feet when the moment finally arrived and needless to say, many of them had tears in their eyes.
This year too things were no different from last year. Murray had once again reached the Wimbledon finals and this time his opponent was World Number one Novak Djokovic. The British crowd was again present in huge numbers to cheer their local boy and the British PM David Cameron was back at the Centre Court along with a host of celebrities like actor Gerard Butler and soccer player Wayne Rooney. But if Andy was feeling the heat and pressure of playing in his consequent finals at the Wimbledon, then he was doing a good job of hiding it. However, the tension amongst the fans was palpable.
Since the beginning of the match the momentum was clearly in Andy`s favour. He won the first set 6-4 and the second 7-5. In fact, many would say that the second set was the turning point of the match as Novak Djokovic let Murray come back into the set after leading the set 4-1. In the third set, Novak was leading 4-2 and still Murray came back and won the set. Though the championship point was unbearable to watch for many – it went on for ages and Murray saw three match points slip by him at 40-0 - but in the end he held forth and the moment finally arrived when the Serb netted a backhand to end the contest. Andy did admit later on – "I can`t believe I managed to do it. The last game very challenging, probably hardest points I`ve had to play in my life."
Murray has been a different player ever since he lost to Roger last year. He won the US Open and the Olympics between then and now. In this year`s Wimbledon finals the change was visible – he served better, hit more aces and in total came up with an amazing performance. He was looking physically and mentally prepared for the big match.
It won`t be an overstatement to say that he was playing the match of his life and his winners were in tune with the importance of the occasion. When asked after the match as to whether he had realised what he had done Murray said – "I understand how much everyone wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon so I hope you enjoyed it. I tried my best."
On his part Novak too admitted that the pressure was intense on Andy and accepted as much – "I know how much this means to the whole country." Yes, everyone who loves the game of tennis around the world would be feeling happy for Andy Murray and everyone who watched the 2013 finals, whether on court or on television would cherish the moment for a long time to come.
Djokovic was clearly not in his element in the finals unlike the semi-finals against the big-hitting Juan Martin del Potro against whom he won an epic battle lasting four hours and 43 minutes. Novak will be back, no doubt, given the class player that he is but for now the moment belongs to Murray. And to the people of United Kingdom who will savour the moment for a long time to come. Another person who will not forget Murray`s win in a hurry will be his coach, another great tennis player, Ivan Lendl. The tribute that Murray paid to Lendl after the win seemed so right – "This one is especially for Lendl as well because he did everything to try to win this one."
Post Script: Murray has shown everyone that hope and faith are one of man`s greatest virtue. The hope of the people of UK that one day someone from their own backyard will win at the Centre Court and the faith that Murray had in him to make it happen were realised on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon at the All England Club.