July 10, 2016
Andy Murray punched the air and doubled up, face in hands, taking in the moment. Ivan Lendl almost smiled. Andy’s mother Judy beamed radiantly.
Then came the tears of relief, because Wimbledon fortnight always places intolerable pressure on one individual – Britain’s hero.
A second Wimbledon title. One was a dream come true, two means that Murray is moving towards true greatness in British sporting circles.
He now has three Grand Slams, an Olympic gold and a Davis Cup. It has been eighty years since Fred Perry notched up multiples of that nature. The man from Dunblane is turning into a living legend.
Milos Raonic fought hard, yet he never hit anything like the heights he had reached against Roger Federer. Murray simply wouldn’t let him.
Andy said afterwards. ‘I’ve had some great moments and some tough losses but this makes up for the tough losses. I played really well today and it was a great match. He is one of the harder workers out there.
‘I’m going to make sure I enjoy this one a little bit more than the first. There was so much stress and pressure.
‘The Prime Minister (David Cameron) was here too. Winning Wimbledon was tough but being Prime Minister is an impossible job and I wouldn’t like to do it.’
Milos Raonic said: ‘Congratulations to Andy, this one is going to sting so I’m going to be back here for another try. It’s been a phenomenal two weeks for me and I’ll keep plugging away. There’s nothing I want more than to be back here.’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in the crowd and tried to give no sign of where their loyalties lay as the match began. Ivan Lendl, the coach with whom Murray wins, looked stony faced and steely of nerve, conveying just the kind of strength and calm Andy would need on this day.
The first key moment came in the seventh game of the first set, when Murray produced a superb cross court backhand pass to create two break points. He struck gold with the second, when Raonic gambled by approaching the net, but couldn’t clear it with his volley. Murray had the relatively early break he had been dreaming of.
Raonic tried to make an impression on Andy’s next two service games but never truly threatened and Murray was able to execute a relatively simple volley to close out the set 6-4.
Centre Court was in raptures. At this stage, Raonic didn’t appear to be quite as frightening as he had seemed with all that relentless power against Federer.
Murray had chances to break in the first, seventh and ninth games of the second set but couldn’t convert and had to face a tie-break.
Raonic began badly, looked tight and clumsy and fell 0-3 behind as Murray kept his head and probed cleverly.
Murray then retrieved what looked for all world a Raonic winner and the Canadian seemed shocked by that particular piece of defensive brilliance. As Raonic became tentative, Murray became dazzling and went 5-1 ahead with two exquisite winners.
Though he tried, Milos couldn’t come back from that and Murray eventually closed out 7-3 with a deep second serve. It was a perfect position to be in.
Could the final really be so easy? Had Raonic been overawed by his first Grand Slam final? Or was there a twist in the tail? After all, Milos had looked down and out against Federer, and yet here he still was.
As the third set crept on, the pressure increased. You had to admire the Raonic resistance at 3-4, when Murray made a concerted effort to break and Milos simply refused to allow the lethal blow.
But you always felt Murray would prevail in the end. You always felt he was the boss of this occasion, the man with the experience, the man who would end his three-year barren spell and win another Slam at last.
His ability demanded it, his nation demanded it, and Murray duly delivered. The final tie-break saw Murray get off to another flyer. He raced to a 3-0 lead once more, the master of his destiny from start to finish.
Raonic dabbed a backhand into the net and it was all but over. Pretty soon Raonic was 1-5 down. A stinging forehand winner gave Murray five Championship points. Milos saved the first. But he couldn’t avoid an emphatic 7-2 reverse. Andy Murray had made history once more.