Final closure: Murray exacts revenge on Federer for SW19 defeat but can't get across the line with Robson as duo settle for silver
00:03 GMT, 6 August 2012
A journey that began with Andy Murray taking delivery of the torch the week before the Olympics and joyously running with it through the Wimbledon grounds came to a perfect end on Sunday — atop the podium on Centre Court.
After a sensational performance in which he dismantled the greatest player of this or any other era, it turned out that the pathways of the All England Club were lined with both the silver and gold of the medals hung around Murray’s neck.
Four weeks on from his spirit being broken by the same player in the same arena, Murray visited near humiliation on Roger Federer, brilliantly scaling the heights of performance and adding to the do-not-adjust-your-set feeling that sometimes accompanied the surreal Olympic tennis at Wimbledon.
Andy Murray beat Roger Federer in the men's singles, exacting revenge from losing the men's final at Wimbledon in July
Net gains: Murray looks to he heavens after beating Federer 6-2, 61, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon
Federer has never been beaten up at his spiritual home like he was on Sunday afternoon, managing only seven games as he was pummelled 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in only an hour and 56 minutes.
For a while it seemed that Murray was going to carry the momentum to a remarkable second gold with Laura Robson, his late call-up of a partner who was only ever meant to play women’s doubles here with Heather Watson.
Faced by the world’s No1 doubles and singles players, Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, they so nearly pulled it off but just faltered at the death in the deciding tiebreaker to go down 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.
Murray had appeared dazed at the singles medal ceremony beforehand, trying to control his senses due to the commitment coming up while attempting to drink it all in as he stood between Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, winner of the bronze ahead of Novak Djokovic.
What a difference 28 days makes: Murray stormed to victory at Wimbledon after turning in a fine display
There was certainly none of the overt emotion that followed his Wimbledon final defeat and, maybe, if he could have picked one of these feverish Sundays to win upon then it would have been July 9.
That should not detract from Sunday’s magnificent effort and he should look at this past six weeks in the round — not that he has much chance to take stock with the US Open fast approaching towards the end of this month.
Murray went into Wimbledon in unspectacular form and not only played a fine tournament to reach the final but also showed a side of himself that the public has rarely seen with his honest and human reaction to defeat.
If that boosted his standing, then his guts-and-glory performances in the Team GB colours of the past week have only multiplied the effect, so nearly carrying his 18-year-old partner along to gold in the process.
Always technically superb, there has been a purpose and aggression to Murray’s tennis not seen before, like a light has gone on. You even wonder if this might turn out to be his Djokovic ‘Davis Cup’ moment of late 2010, when the charge the Serb got from winning the team competition subsequently powered him towards a phenomenal nine months.
Good return: Murray won two medals in one day, including a gold in the men's singles
You can't hurry a Murray (or so they say): The British No 1 put Federer to the sword on Centre Court with a dominant display
And although Ivan Lendl was not here — as was always the plan — it should not be forgotten that Murray’s bold hiring of him as coach is looking a very shrewd move when that was less obvious in an average clay- court season. Still we await a Grand Slam title, although as Federer pointed out, Murray did not need to win the Olympics to convince the great Swiss that he remains a major winner in waiting. The quality of Murray’s tennis was enough to show that.
The world No 1 was mugged by the 25-year-old Scot’s forehand and a serve that, as against Djokovic in the semi-final, continually delivered when it mattered most.
That was the case spectacularly in the final game, when Murray stepped up to serve out for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
At 15-all there might have been a wobble but the response was shudderingly emphatic: service winner, ace, ace. That is what you call closure.
Contrasting fortunes: Murray was on another
level compared to Federer as the British ace turned in one of the best
displays of his career
Federer did not try and spin his way out later, but pointed to the toll that his gruelling semi-final against Del Potro may have taken: ‘It was more probably emotional than physical, I had tears in my eyes after my first round, I found this a very emotional tournament. Maybe that’s trying to make excuses, Andy was much the better player than me today.’
Equally, Murray could point to the fact that he did not have the luxury of Saturday off, playing instead two mixed doubles matches that ended with sudden-death tiebreaks.
That might have hampered him in producing this tour de force, which had the effect of making Federer look all of his nearly 31 years.
From 2-2 he conceded nine games in 57 minutes, the crucial one being the third of the second set, when six break points were saved by Murray. Unlike in the Wimbledon final, when Murray also had his rival on the ropes, there was no letting him slip away this time.
Home support: The Wimbledon crowd roared Murray on to glory as they helped create a Davis Cup atmosphere on Centre Court
In the stands: Andy Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears assumes her position on Centre Court to cheer on her partner
Team Murray: Andy made his way into the stands to celebrate his straight-sets victory over Federer
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro won the bronze medal in the men's singles after upsetting second seed Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 on Wimbledon's Court One.
Djokovic, beaten by Andy Murray in the last four, was the bronze medallist in Beijing four years ago but he ceded first blood when his serve was broken in the 11th game.
He had two chances to break back and force a tie-break but Del Potro held on, and the Argentinian broke again to lead 2-1 in the second set.
Djokovic tried to respond but there was no way back and for the Serb there was only the agony of finishing fourth.
A facet of this grass-court season has been the impregnability of Murray’s serve, and here it was again.
One point was lost on it in the third set and Federer, having the legs run out of him by being moved side to side and handling some uneven bounces from the wearing court less adroitly than his opponent, could not make any inroads on the second delivery.
An hour after that last ace was pumped past Federer to the deafening acclamation of the Centre Court, he was back on to face a vastly more experienced pair who have twice won the US Open. Four years on from winning the Wimbledon junior title, Robson had the chance of another unlikely remarkable triumph and her nerve held admirably until the decisive tiebreak.
There were a couple of double faults in it but it was Murray who faltered slightly at 6-6 to allow high-class opposition to sneak ahead.
Until then it had appeared that the stars were aligning for an astonishing double triumph, but it was not to be.
Robson said: ‘I want to thank him for playing with me because this has been one of the best weeks of my life.’
Neither player should reproach themselves, as to get so far was an achievement in itself.
Not quite: Murray and Robson were beaten in the final of the mixed doubles
Centre of attention: Murray provided the Wimbledon crowd with some exhibition celebrating
ANDY MURRAY'S MILESTONES: SPORTSMAIL LOOKS BACK AT ANDY'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Immense: Murray hammered Roger Federer in one of his many career highlights to take Olympic gold
US Open junior title (September 2004): Murray's talent for tennis was evident from an early age. He won the prestigious Orange Bowl in Florida aged 12 and went to train in Spain when he was 15 to develop his game. Victory over Sergiy Stakhovsky in the final of the US Open juniors cemented his position as Britain's brightest hope.
Making a mark on grass (June 2005): Wild card Murray reached the third round at Queen's and was in a winning position against former grand slam winner Thomas Johansson before succumbing to cramp. It was a similar story on his senior Wimbledon debut as he beat world number 16 Radek Stepanek in round two and went two sets up against David Nalbandian only to lose in five.
First ATP Tour final (September 2005): Murray enjoyed a superb run to the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok but found world number one Roger Federer one obstacle too far. The run took him into the top 100 for the first time.
Maiden ATP Tour title (February 2006): Andy Roddick was the Scot's first top-10 victim as he beat the world number three in the semi-finals of the SAP Open in San Jose. He then defeated Lleyton Hewitt in three sets to lift the trophy, climbing into the top 50.
Team Murray (December 2007): The Lawn Tennis Association hired coach Brad Gilbert to work with Murray but the young Scot knew it was not for him. After only 18 months together, Murray ended the arrangement and assembled his own team of coach Miles Maclagan plus fitness trainers, a physio and various friends.
Wimbledon thriller (June 2008): Murray gave the Centre Court crowd a rollercoaster ride as he came back from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet and reach the quarter-finals for the first time. He was well beaten by Rafael Nadal, though.
Masters magic (August 2008): The Scot won his first Masters title in Cincinnati, beating Novak Djokovic in the final.
US Open breakthrough (September 2008): Murray and the US Open always seemed made for each other. After coming back from two sets down against Jurgen Melzer in round three, 21-year-old Murray beat Nadal for the first time, in a marathon match over two days. Federer was a class act in the final, however.
Back-to-back titles (October 2008): Murray's US Open heroics lifted him to number four in the world for the first time and he cemented that position by winning the Madrid Masters, beating Federer in the semi-final, and successfully defending his St Petersburg Open title. He also qualified for the Masters Cup for the first time.
Biggest title (April 2009): Murray was victorious at the Miami Masters – known as the unofficial fifth major – beating Djokovic in the final.
Ranking milestone (May 2009): Murray became the first British player ever to be officially ranked number three in the world on May 11. He then climbed to number two in August, albeit briefly.
King of Queen's (June 2009): Murray reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time and then justified his number one seeding by becoming the first British winner at Queen's for 71 years, his first title on grass.
Getting closer at SW19 (July 2009): Murray boosted hopes of a first home men's singles winner with a thrilling run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. He was favourite to beat Andy Roddick but the American produced an inspired display to win in four sets.
Missing out in Melbourne (January 2010): After knocking out Nadal and Marin Cilic to reach the final of the Australian Open, Murray's grand slam hopes were again dashed by Federer. The Swiss triumphed 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13/11) at Melbourne Park.
Another Melbourne final (January 2011): Back in the Australian Open final, Murray was optimistic he could go one better than in 2010. But he suffered a 6-4 6-2 6-3 defeat against Djokovic and lost three straight first-round matches afterwards.
Nadal has Murray's measure (June-September 2011): Murray was having his most consistent season, marked by reaching the semi-finals at every grand slam. At the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open it was the same story, though – Murray was good but not good enough to beat Nadal.
So near and yet so far (January 2012): Under new coach Ivan Lendl, Murray produced one of his best grand slam performances in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, pushing world number one Djokovic all the way before finally losing out in five sets after almost five hours.
First Wimbledon final (July 2012): Murray ended the 74-year wait for a British Wimbledon finalist by holding his nerve under intense pressure to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last four. He then won his first set in a grand slam final but Federer was not to be denied, the Swiss winning 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4.
Olympic Gold (August 2012): A straight-sets defeat of Djokovic in the semi-finals gave Murray the chance to claim Olympic tennis gold for Britain for the first time since 1908. And he duly delivered as, exactly four weeks since the Wimbledon final, he gained revenge on Federer with what appeared a breakthrough performance, Murray winning 6-2 6-1 6-4 to top the podium.