Battles usually aren’t interrupted by rain, but this was no ordinary battle.
For the first time in its history, the Wimbledon men’s singles final concluded under a closed roof as Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4. The retractable roof had to be shut because of a torrential downpour during the third set; the closure delayed the match for 40 minutes.
More history was going to be made either way: Federer was going to tie the record for men’s singles titles at the event (seven) or Murray was going to be the first player from Great Britain to capture the crown since Fred Perry in 1936.
While it was not going to be easy — no top title ever is — what a battle that was at Centre Court on Sunday. The sixth game of the third set saw 26 points, 10 deuces and 6 break points for Federer. Meanwhile, Murray fell to the court three times because of two slips and a dive for another shot in a game which would take 20 minutes to play. Federer would go on to win that game and that epic third set.
For his part, Murray did not go quietly or quickly, as the match itself took more than three hours to play. It was also not easy for Murray: at several points the TV cameras showed closeups of the support braces on Murray’s ankles.
Every time it looked like the dour Scot might give up, he’d either unleash another shot or Federer would miss his. For every grunt and every bow of the head signalling his despair, for every howl and wince of pain, Murray dug deep and found a way to stay in the match against one of the best players to ever grace the game.
In the end, though, Federer was simply too much. The usually stoic Swiss player — who appeared to never break a sweat during the match — unleashed his own emotions, falling to the court and screaming in jubilation after Murray’s final shot went wide.
“Alright, I’m going to try this and it’s not going to be easy,” Murray said in his own emotional address to the crowd, his voice breaking as he thanked them for their encouragement. Federer noted his own struggles in his attempt to equal his hero, Pete Sampras. “I never stopped believing,” Federer said in his on-court interview, “and it all worked out. It all came together.”
The victory, his 17th Grand Slam title, also means Federer regains the top ranking from Novak Djokovic and enables Federer to match Sampras’s record of 286 weeks as the No. 1 male tennis player in the world.
In the other major singles title decided on the weekend, Serena Williams of the U.S. matched her sister Venus by taking her fifth Wimbledon women’s championship on Saturday. She beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2; the win was Serena’s 14th Grand Slam event victory.