Federer wins seventh Wimbledon title
Originally published on: 08/07/12 00:00
The Swiss’ 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 triumph also saw him recapture the world No.1 ranking – for the first time since May 2010 – and tie Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at the top – the longest spell since the rankings began in 1973.
For Murray, it meant for a fourth Grand Slam final defeat but the Scot did himself proud during the match and fought back tears as he was given a hero’s reception by the crowd afterwards.
“I’m getting closer,” he stuttered to tremendous roars around Centre Court, before delivering an emotional runners-up speech.
Federer, meanwhile, was delighted. “I couldn’t be more happy," he said, later adding in his post match press conference: "Honestly this one hasn’t quite sunk in yet. There was so much on the line. Its going to take much longer to understand what I was able to achieve today. I played terrific."
For a man who had already featured in 23 Grand Slam finals, Federer made a surprisingly nervy start while Murray, who had lost all nine of the sets he had collectively contested in slam finals – in New York in 2008 and Melbourne in 2010 and 2011 – was immediately business-like. The Scot took to Centre Court with his racket already in hand, hopping from toe to toe in anticipation of his historic bout, and he started the match swinging as freely as if he were still on the practice courts. Usually more tentative on his forehand, Murray channeled an extra few percent into the shot early on and was rewarded, converting his first break point opportunity in the opening game. It was the first time, in all four of his Grand Slam final appearances, that Murray had been up a break in the first set but though he confidently held in the next game, Federer broke right back on his following service game as the home hope’s willingness to hit hard wavered.
In the eighth game, Murray got caught up in a series of lengthy exchanges, unable to call on a killer shot to get himself out of trouble, but he finally held, and come the ninth, the Scot pounced again. Echoing an old tactic of his mentor, Ivan Lendl, Murray raced for a short ball and fired it directly at Federer, causing the Swiss to duck out of the way. That brought up two break points when Federer, as if momentarily rattled, netted to hand over the break and the Scot served out the opening set.
A gripping second set saw chances for both but it wasn’t until the 12th game, with Murray serving to stay in it, that the crucial break arrived. No man had won a Wimbledon final from two sets down since Henri Jean Cochet in 1927, but Federer avoided having to pull off the feat as his 19th winner – a sweet approach volley that spun out of reach of the sprawling Scot – saw him break for 7-5 to level up the match.
Two games in to the third set, the heavens opened, and those that had predicted that a closed roof would play into Federer’s masterful hands were sitting smugly by the sixth game, when the Swiss was rewarded for his relentless pressure by clinching his sixth break point attempt for a 4-2 lead. The 30-year-old served it out, and continued to race through his service games while putting Murray under the kosh on his. In the fifth game of the fourth set, the carpet was truly pulled from Murray’s feet. Federer brought up two break points for 15-40 and converted on the first when he whipped a dipping cross court backhand past the advancing Scot.
Motoring on in the same pattern, Federer brought up his first Championship point at 5-4 and though Murray saved the first, the Swiss fell to the floor in delight as Murray’s attempted pass flew agonisingly wide.
"After the break he was a bit more aggressive," conceded the world No.4 afterwards. "He has excellent timing, so when there's no wind or anything under the roof, he times the ball very, very well. He was able to go for his shots a bit more. Felt a bit more secure probably."
Asked when he'll next take to court, Murray admitted he will need some time to recover from his physical and emotional rollercoaster ride in South West London.
"I'll wait and see how my body recovers after the next few days," he said. "I fell a lot of times this tournament. I got a lot of bruises all over my body and stuff. So I need to take a few days off, let everything heal, recover, and then see.
"But I won't be on the court next week, that's for sure."