Andy Murray finally did it. He let Fred Perry’s ghost get some rest.
A Scotsman by birth, with an Irish surname, Murray was all Brit on Sunday, ruling Novak Djokovic on virtually all the important points during the gentlemen’s singles final at the All England Club. In taking out the world No. 1 in straight sets, Murray exorcised Perry’s spirit, which had been floating over Wimbledon as the last Englishman to win The Championships since 1936.
Try these other numbers on for size, (or hopefully you did with your favorite odds-maker) Murray’s victory on 7/7/2013 (who says 13 is unlucky?) came 77 years after Perry last held the pineapple-topped trophy aloft. Andy’s Wimbledon triumph came in his seventh Grand Slam final.
Although Murray is still looking up at Perry’s Wimbledon three-peat from 1934-36, the hopes and eyes of a tennis-loving nation will likely now bore on Laura Robson to succeed Virginia Wade as the last British woman to win The Championships, back in 1977.
The matchup of the top two seeds and historic outcome restored some measure of order to a Weird Wimbledon whose draws were beset by injuries, plenty of first-week slippage around the grounds and the early ousters of past champions of Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova. The 2012 defenders, Roger Federer – the men’s all-time Slam king and Murray’s vanquisher in the 2012 final saw his record run to 36 consecutive major quarterfinals end in the second round – and Serena Williams, who was taken out by the power of Sabine Lisicki, were also casualties before the money rounds. Sadly, the smiling Lisicki was reduced to tears, overwhelmed by the occasion and champion Marion Bartoli as the No. 15-seed made short work of No. 23 in the ladies’ championship.
No doubt, Andy’s victory not only amassed plenty of interest on Mount Murray (history will now rename the former Henman Hill) but with telly viewers about the U.K. How many U.S. watchers turned up from their strawberries and cream to watch Murray’s moment on ESPN, which certainly had to take a major hit with all of the upsets over the fortnight, is another matter.
Murray-Djokovic – over the course of the three hours, there were many long rallies, but Novak delivered too many overheads without sting, deployed too many drop shots that stayed high and piled up the unforced errors – was a tough act to follow from last year’s Murray-Federer final that drew 3.9 million viewers, the most ever for the worldwide leader with the sport.
As to the state of the men’s game, questions abound. Does Federer have top-flight tennis left in his soon-to-be-32-year-old body? Can Rafa’s knees handle the hard court season? Is Juan Martin del Potro, the big man who won the 2009 U.S. Open and whose semifinal match with Djokovic was certainly the match of The Championships, finally back after a run of injuries? Can the Pole, Jerzy Janowicz, who was very much in the first 2.5 sets in the semis versus Murray, become a force to be reckoned beyond the lawns? Of course, there are the ever-hopefuls named Ferrer, Tsonga and Berdych looking to author their own piece of Majors lore in Flushing Meadows.
For their part, Murray (U.S. Open winner) and Djokovic (the three-time defending Australian champ) have now met in the finals of three of the last four Grand Slam finals. Given their forms and similar grinding styles, they very well may have broken away from the pack to make tennis the realm of the Big 2. Only time will tell if that's the case, the game's rightful evolution or a good thing for the sport.