|The Crying Scotsman: Andy Murray after his defeat yesterday|
ANDY MURRAY may not quite have ended the 78-year British hunt for a Wimbledon champion. But he certainly ended the churlish “he’s just a dour Scot” attitude of the very average home counties English tennis fan.
After taking the first set with some panache, Murray was simply unable to stop the master Roger Federer from taking the next three as he equalled Pete Sampras’s record of SEVEN men’s singles’ titles with a rain-interupted 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 triumph.
Murray, with both Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond watching beneath the Centre Court roof – which should have been closed from the start to avoid the rain break – was a man under extreme pressure. Even David Beckham and the missus turned up. Now THAT is pressure.
Widely disliked for his off-hand attitude and his droll humour, Murray produced the best for last… with a tear-stained post-match interview at the hands of a sympathetic Mrs Tennis, Sue Barker.
For a few seconds he was fine: “I’m getting closer!” he japed, to rapturous applause from inside the stadium and the soacked masses on Murray Mount.
Then: “Firstly I’d like to congratulate Roger. After I won my semi-final I thought: ‘This is my best chance’. Roger’s not bad for a 30-year-old with a bad back! He’s still got a lot of fight left and he deserved it.”
But then Britain’s first finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938 (we won’t mention Fred Perry, our last winner in 1936) finally cracked: “I’m going to try this but it’s going to be difficult.”
Between racking sobs and flurries of tears to match the monsoon-like British summer, he said: “I’m going to try not to look at them because I’ll start crying again. But everyone in that corner who supported me through this tournament did a great job, so thank you.”
So Murray has now lost FOUR Grand Slam finals. One in New York two years ago, two on the trot in Melbourne… and an historic tilt at Wimbledon which might just have come off had he claimed one of several break points at 2-2 and 5-5 in the second set.
Federer’s mastery – he has been responsible for three of those four major defeats - became apparent at the end of the second when, having grabbed a break-point for the first time at 6-5, he grabbed the levelling set with two superb drop shots.
The Swiss darling of Wimbledon – with a mum from Kempton Park, Johannesburg – kept the post-match applause alive when he said: “Andy’s done so well over the years, he’s been so consistent. To me it shows he cares so much. I’m sure will win at least one Grand Slam.”
With this win taking him back to the world No1 spot ahead of Novak Djokovic, the man he beat in the semi-final on Friday, Federer said: “I played some of my best tennis in these last two games. That’s why I love Wimbledon.”
And SW19 loves Roger Federer. And, from this moment forth, the Crying Scotsman, St Andrew Murray.