So it wasn't to be after all. Despite becoming the first British male to reach the Wimbledon final since 1938, Andy Murray couldn't match the achievements of Fred Perry two years prior to that and claim the title as he went down 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 4-6. In destroying the hopes of a nation, Roger Federer cemented his place as the greatest man to ever pick up a racket, picking up his seventh Wimbledon title, drawing him level with Pete Sampras' record, and making it grand slam number 17.
Murray may divide opinion in Britain (a dour Scot, a big-game choker, some claim), but it was hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy as he bid a tearful farewell to the centre court after picking up another grand slam runner-up trophy. That's four for the collection now and with it an ever-growing pressure to claim one of the game's majors. "At least I'm getting closer," he managed to joke through the tears afterwards, having failed to win a single set in his three previous final appearances (in Melbourne, twice, and New York).
And yet it had all started so well. Both men began at a cracking pace, with Murray breaking Federer in the opening game. It was the Swiss maestro who surprisingly looked the edgier. While he soon found his groove to win three in a row and take a 3-2 lead, Federer surrendered his serve again, allowing Murray to serve out and take the opening set 6-4.
Set two proved equally tight, with Murray fashioning the greater number of break points, but failing to take them. Instead, Federer turned on the style as Murray at 5-6 couldn't take the set into a tie-break. Two moments of magic sufficed as the Swiss fashioned a break point and then snatched the set with the most delicate of sliced drop-volleys.
And then the British summer played its part. At 1-1 in the third, the heavens opened; a good time for Murray to regroup said the ever-dapper Boris Becker in the commentary box. But it was an intervention that was to ultimately prove beneficial to Federer and not Murray. As the rain continued to fall, the order came to close the roof - 30 minutes respite for the players and the chance for punters to recharge their Pimms glasses.
"Aha," said the BBC's expensively assembled expert panel. For the first time, the Wimbledon final was going to be played indoors, and these were conditions that would likely suit Federer, they believed. No wind, no sun, the perfect conditions for his uniquely effortless brand of tennis. Have you ever seen Roger Federer sweat? No, and despite a commendable effort from Murray, he wasn't about to start now, it seemed. The unforced errors were cut down, the number of winners rose and Murray was starting to get down on himself, which is usually a bad sign. While Ivan Lendl may have improved his charge's body language a little, Murray could still take a leaf or two out his coach's book, whose face remained a mask throughout. He must be some poker player.
One break of serve in each set sufficed and Federer closed out for victory to clinch his first major title in two-and-a-half years and first Wimbledon crown since 2009. It also means that he overtakes both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to become world number one again, a not inconsiderable achievement given their stranglehold on the game in the last two years.
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