I couldn’t watch the Wimbledon Mens Singles final live because I was in New York City seeing my niece take part in the NYC Triathlon. However , I had DVR’d the match and I was able to watch it at leisure , secure in the knowledge that my favorite had won .
It was a great match .
While we were in NY City , my son used his iPod to update me on the match and I knew that Murray had won the first set. This did cause me a bit of uneasiness since I know that the odds usually favor the player winning the first set. Besides , Roger Federer is almost 31 and the longer the match the better the chances of his 25-year-old challenger. Still , I hoped that , having come so close , Federer would not let this chance slip . With Nadal sidelined early ,and Djokovic beaten in a hard fought semi-final, there would never be a better chance to win that elusive 17th Grand Slam and Federer did not disappoint. When my son later told me that Federer had indeed pulled it out , I was torn between breathing a sigh of relief and saying ” Was there ever any doubt ?”
Watching the match at home , I realized that even though RF won in four sets , the match was very close ; Murray came closer to an upset than I had thought . In the first two sets , he matched Federer shot for shot as Federer made several unforced errors. Late in the second , he was 30-all on Federer’s serve . Had he broken through , he would almost certainly have closed out the second set on his own serve and taken a 2-0 lead in sets , an almost insurmountable advantage for even Federer to overcome . That Federer held fast and not only held serve but broke Murray to even the match at 1 set all is a testament to his mental toughness.
After the rain delay , the stadium roof was closed and that seemed to aid Federer’s game . As the experts explained it , the absence of any wind meant that he could go for his shots without worry that the wind would affect them . His service velocity also went up. As Federer’s game went up a notch a gallant Murray just wasn’t able to keep up. At crucial points , Federer attacked Murray’s second serve with great success and mixed up his game to constantly pressure his opponent. At 2-3 in the third on Murray’s serve , there was a lengthy 20 minute game in which Murray faced six break points, one after another . He tried his best and hit some vicious forehands and some lovely passing shots but eventually crumbled under RF’s relentless attack. Shots which had fallen just inside the lines began to go long or wide and after four tense sets it was all over . All throughout the match there were long rallies punctuated by crisp netplay , delectable drop volleys and passing shots that were things of beauty. None of the bang-bang-bang stuff you used to see at Wimbledon when the grass surface was faster. For me , the highlight was when , after an extended rally , Fed hit a unplayable drop volley that curled away from Murray giving him no chance at all.
Prior to the match , I did not have a good opinion of Murray , viewing him as a talented player with a fragile ego. That has been true in the past but he conducted himself very well for most of the final. Until the middle of the third set , he kept his emotions in check and gave Federer all he could handle . After that his frustrations with his own play surfaced but he kept trying hard until the end. Murray bears a heavy burden when he plays at Wimbledon ; his countrymen rely on him to be the first Brit since Fred Perry to win there . Murray’s breaking down in the post-match ceremonies was understandable given the fact that he had played so well and still come up short. Federer was gracious in saying that he hoped Murray would win Wimbledon in the future and it is certainly possible but it is going to be difficult. Federer may be nearing the end of his career but there are still Nadal and particularly Djokovich for Murray to contend with. I hope he doesn’t have the same fate as another Andy ( Andy Roddick) who lost in three Grand Slam finals to Federer including a nail-biter considered one of the greatest matches ever played at Wimbledon.
And what of Federer ?I had been hoping , without much hope , that he would add to his Grand Slam total . In this match , he showed that he still has something left in the tank. It was such a pleasure to see his extraordinary court coverage , the grace of his movements and the fluidity of his strokes . Aside from the fact that he is a great , great player what I love is his effortless grace and the way he makes everything seem so smooth and unhurried. I love his one handed backhand and the fact that he never grunts as he hits the ball. Even Nadal supporters will have to admit that when it comes to aesthetics , there is no one who comes close to the FED.I do hope that he has a couple of good years left to him and that he runs his Grand Slam total to 20.
Two other observations …
Are there any fans more sporting than the British ? They must have wanted Andy Murray to win in the worst way and yet they put aside those feelings and applauded good shots no matter who made them . Indeed I thought that the crowd was equally divided between Federer supporters and Murray backers .Truly admirable . Some British soccer fans may be hooligans but the fans at Wimbledon deserve our salute as true sports fans . During the mens doubles final , one of the players put away a volley but inadvertently touched the net with his racket. He immediately apprised the chair umpire of the infraction and forfeited the point . The player was Jonathan Marray , a Brit . Of course. His sportsmanship could have cost his side dearly but , happily ,they prevailed in a five set struggle.
I have been to many U.S Opens but there is something special about Wimbledon . I don’t know if it is the green of the grass, the hallowed history , the whites worn by the players , the colorfulness of the crowd’s attire or the brooding English weather … I just love it all. It’s always a treat , more so when the quality of tennis is as high as that dished out by Federer and Murray.
As Oliver Twist would have said ” Please , sir , can I have some more ( next year ) ?” Please, Federer / Nadal/ Djokovic , Murray . Please…