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Murray makes history at Wimbledon

Andy Murray becomes the first British player to win the Wimbledon men's singles title in 77 years after beating world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4.

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After 77 years of waiting for Andy Murray and Great Britain, rarely before as united as now, there came a few minutes that felt like 77 years more.

Only then did his permanently long face shorten and crinkle a little. 

Murray had played world No. 1. Novak Djokovic into an inescapable corner in the Wimbledon final, and now at 40/0 had three points to rewrite history, personal and national. Then thinking got in the way. Triumph would take 14 more points, three of which if won by Djokovic would have extended the match and maybe even gained Djokovic the initiative. The balance of the way the final was played belied this possibility, but the afternoon was warm, the many long rallies had taken their toll, both players were weary - and it was Djokovic.

77 years in the making ... Andy Murray grasps the Wimbledon trophy.

77 years in the making ... Andy Murray grasps the Wimbledon trophy. Photo: Getty

Sue Barker would later say to Murray that it was tortuous to watch. "Imagine playing it!" he retorted in the peremptory way he would return a second serve. An hour after the final, it was still blocking the view from the pedestal. "That last game will be the toughest I play in my career," he said. "Ever."

When at last Murray had succeeded Fred Perry as the most recent British man to win Wimbledon, he appeared to experience every known emotion and search through every gesture for one that fitted. "At the end of the match, I didn't quite know what was going on," he said.

He wandered as in a daze, held his arms aloft, reddened a little around the eyes, repeatedly held his hands to his face, prostrated himself on the court, looked up into the crowd - as it happens, at the press box, which he said might have been sub-conscious - then followed in the precarious footmarks of women's winner Marion Bartoli by climbing into the stands to hug everyone in his retinue.

Beaten: Novak Djokovic.

Beaten...Novak Djokovic. Photo: AP

Only then was he ready to accept the trophy as the first British man to win Wimbledon, as a critic wryly observed, in shorts. Only then did his permanently long face shorten and crinkle a little.

And only in the golden light of retrospect might he have come to see that this really was only destiny. Murray was No. 2 in the world to Djokovic's No. 1, but for some time has been closing the gap between these fiercely friendly contemporaries; Djokovic acknowledged it. Murray had won and lost major finals to Djokovic in the last 12 months. He had played in and led last year's Wimbledon final, to Roger Federer, and lost it. If coach Ivan Lendl had taught him one thing, he said, it was to learn and grow from defeats, not stew on them.

He had learned to abide with the yearning and expectation when it was at its most acute, in the days before the tournament, and then from the semi-finals on. It was not as if he could avoid it, he said. As his side of the draw caved in, he had enjoyed a Bartoli-like charmed run through the tournament, playing no-one ranked better than No. 20. Djokovic's draw was much more difficult, culminating in a brutal semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro. Djokovic would not excuse his uncharacteristically anaemic performance this way.

The ecstasy: Andy Murray of Britain celebrates. Click for more photos

Wimbledon Men's Final 2013

The ecstasy: Andy Murray of Britain celebrates. Photo: AP

  • The defining moment of Andy Murray's career as he raises the Wimbledon trophy.
  • The ecstasy: Andy Murray of Britain celebrates.
  • All energy spent: Andy Murray of Great Britain falls to the ground after clinching the championship.
  • Sporting: Old adversaries embrace.
  • Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns against Britain's Andy Murray. It was Murray's non-stop running that eventually told.
  • Passion:Britain's Andy Murray celebrates winning a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic during the men's singles final.
  • He gave everything but it was not just not enough: Novak Djokovic.
  • Dunblane residents watch local boy Andy Murray of Great Britain play Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
  • Murray Mound goes mental: Spectators watch the men's singles final tennis match.
  • His greatest supporter of all: Judy Murray watches her son as he edges towards victory.

All of the UK was with Murray again. However many points he won, the noise was like that many goals for England at Wembley. When Djokovic prevailed, it was as if at the scoring of a leg-bye at Fenners. The atmosphere was even more fervent than at the Olympic final on the same court last year, said Murray. It amounted to a great moral force, fortifying Murray, perhaps to an extent demoralising Djokovic. At the climax, the spectators, though beside themselves, were shushing one another, so as not to despoil the history to which they were about to bear witness.

Of course, Murray had to play the match. Though straightforward on the scoreboard, it was protracted in its playing, as long as any five-setter, said the protagonists. There was none of the crash-bang of the semi-finals to shake Wimbledon's foundations; each point had to be negotiated and won, as if separately carrying its own premium, and so each set lasted at least an hour. Improbably in a three-set men's match, there were 11 breaks of serve, and 19 other break points.

The end was in the beginning. The first point took more than 20 shots to complete, the first three games more than 20 minutes. In the first game, Djokovic fell 0/40 behind on serve, and although he recovered to win, he seemed to be playing from behind for the rest of the match. By his standards, he was listless. His 40 tally of errors mistakes was unconscionable by his standards. Later, he credited Murray for his returns, and chastised himself for impatience, and for wasting chances at the net.

Djokovic led the second and third sets, but could not consolidate. As the match began to slip from his grasp, he tried to wrench it back with a series of drop shots, but Murray was equal to them. Two famously uber-fit players wilted, physically at least. Both said the match was physically draining. But it is hard to know about Murray how much of his woe-is-me look is affect and how much is effect, how much is fatigue and how much is a kind of designer weariness, like the way former AFL star Robert Harvey would clutch at his shorts as if spent.

Murray was not spent. As hysteria engulfed centre court, he recovered a smash, then in a few strides was at the net to made good Djokovic's drop-volley. It gave him his fourth match point. Later, his mind still a vortex, he could not remember the shape of the winning point, only that there was not another. After three hours, after 14 days, after nine years of his own longing and 77 years of his country's, all that mattered was that he won it.