“Game, Set and Match, Murray”
For an umpire to announce that at the end of a match is no surprise for British player Andy Murray. Coming into the grass court championships at Wimbledon as the second seed and being world number two, that has become a formality really. However, to be able to hear that in a Wimbledon Final is whole different story. 77 years since the last male British winner (Fred Perry) and a decade since the so-close-but-yet-so-far days of Tim Henman, Britain has never felt so convinced of having a home grown talent lift the silver gilt cup of Wimbledon.
Then came Andy Murray, from Glasgow, Scotland.
Before we get into a truly remarkable and historical final day at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, the first week of play had brought up plenty of shocks and drama, most notably from the men’s side of the draw. As we progressed further into the tournament, the women’s side of the draw claimed a few top players as well. Last but not least, this year’s championship was marred by huge criticism from numerous players on the apparently poor surface of many courts which led to injuries and walkovers due to slips and bad falls.
Huge Shocks in the Men’s Singles
1st Round: Steve Darcis (BEL) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP) 7-6 7-6 6-4
When the draw was released, people from all around the tennis world will be asking themselves – Who is this Steve Darcis guy? This Belgium is already at 29 years old and only has two ATP titles to his name. Prior to the match he was not even ranked in the top 100 of the ATP rankings. Rafael Nadal on the other hand, fresh from his eighth Roland Garros (French Open) title, has twelve grand slam titles to his name and is a popular ambassador to the sport of tennis.
Centre Court was treated to one of the biggest upsets in grand slam history as Darcis outplayed Nadal from the backcourt and sent the stunned Spaniard home in straight sets.
Prior to the championships, Nadal has just been crowned the French Open title and did not participate in any grass court tournaments leading up to Wimbledon. A sign of rustiness on grass perhaps? Nevertheless Nadal had little answer against a very determined Belgium who had nothing to lose, with all the expectations shouldered on Nadal to win the match.
2nd Round: Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) bt Roger Federer (SUI) 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6
Bidding to win a record eighth Wimbledon crown, Roger Federer breezed through his first round match in sublime fashion, and there was little to suggest betting against him repeating such a dominant performance in the second round. However the great Swiss ran into an inspired Ukrainian on Centre Court, who played immaculate tennis and revived the days of serve-and-volley play.
Stakhovsky virtually played the whole match by serve-and-volleying. Obviously not used playing against this type of play, Federer just ran out of ideas in four tough sets and becomes arguably the biggest casualty yet to leave the championships. The serve-and-volley concept was the most common of plays back in the old days of tennis. However as the decades went on, the courts became slower and the tennis balls of today are heavier. With these changes the modern tennis game has very much evolved around heavy groundstrokes and long rallies. In front of a stunned crowd on Centre Court, Stakhovsky showcased an art of play which eliminated one of the greatest players of the modern era.
Big Name Casualties in the Women’s Singles
2nd Round: M. Larcher de Brito (POR) bt Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-3 6-4
Amidst the constant grunts and screams which have been a trademark of Maria Sharapova, she has always been a fan favourite here in Wimbledon, ever since she beat Serena Williams and lifted the Wimbledon title as a 17 year old back in 2004. However she did not look convincing in her first round win and just was not good enough in this upset. Larcher de Brito handled the pressure well towards the end of the second set and thoroughly deserved this victory.
Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova – this was supposed to be the scripted final between two of the more dominant players in women’s tennis. With Sharapova now out of the fray, bookies were starting to bet crowning Serena Williams as this year’s champion.
Well now, they often say we should not get ahead of ourselves.
4th Round: Sabine Lisicki (GER) bt Serena Williams (USA) 6-2 1-6 6-4
On many occasions when there is a match with Serena Williams in it, one has to feel a bit sorry for her opposition. Williams possesses arguably the fastest serve ever to grace women’s tennis and her power play from the back of the court is almost unrivaled. But funny things have happened throughout this year’s Wimbledon championships and the young Lisicki from Germany topped the lot by eliminating world number one Williams in Round 4.
The one intriguing aspect of women’s tennis has always been its unpredictability. Unlike the men who all possess different strengths and are more consistent, women’s tennis is more linear in general. Every player in the draw goes into the tournament feeling that they have a realistic chance of clinching the title if they play the better tennis in the match. Having said that, it was still one huge shock to see Williams being sent packing in only the fourth round of the championships.
2013 Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final: Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs Andy Murray (GBR)
After all the shocks and upsets, the only match that actually materialised from everyone’s prediction was this. World number one Djokovic taking on home hero Murray, a showdown which promised to be a cracker. Very much to the utmost delight of a rapturous home crowd, Murray finally ended Great Britain’s 77-year wait for a male British winner by beating the Serbian 6-4 7-5 6-4.
In a match of the highest quality tennis and of the most intense atmosphere, the final straight sets scoreline did not fairly reflect on the brilliance of the tennis match on show.
Djokovic had his chances throughout the match. The Serbian broke Murray’s serve early in the second set and held his subsequent service game to take a commanding 4-1 lead. He did the same in the third set and went up 4-2. Uncharacteristically for Djokovic though, he failed to close out both sets and credit to Murray, the home favourite broke back twice to save both sets and ultimately win the match.
Murray however did not make it easy for everyone who was cheering for him on Centre Court. The final point was of the utmost drama. Leading 5-4 and serving for the match, Murray quickly served his way up to 40-0 and held three championship points. Perhaps pressured by the realisation of what he was about to achieve and coupled with Djokovic’s fighting spirit, the game was brought back to deuce and Djokovic even held three break points. Willed on by a now tense crowd, Murray eventually earned himself a fourth championship point, and with Djokovic firing a backhand into the net, history was made.
Asked how did it feel upon stepping forward to lift the Wimbledon trophy: ‘Feels very different from last year obviously. (Referring to the heartbreaking Final defeat to Roger Federer twelve months ago on the same exact court)
‘I have no idea how did I come through those final three points, I’m so glad to have done it.’
‘I understand how much everyone wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon and I hope everyone enjoyed it.’
Yes Andy, everyone enjoyed it very much indeed.
With this much deserved victory, Andy Murray becomes the first British man to win the Wimbledon title in the All England Club since 1936. The great Fred Perry did it 77 years ago and it is hard to bet against Murray lifting a second Wimbledon crown in the foreseeable future.