July 7 2013. A baking hot summer’s day. The eyes of the British are fixed on a grass court in London. The players are two young men, - a Serb and a Scot – both 26 years old and born only a week apart. They are ranked number one and number two in the world. These Titans – one 6 foot 2 inches tall, the other 6 foot 3 inches tall – are at the peak of health and fitness. One won Wimbledon two years ago. The other lost the final last year; he cried when interviewed on court after the match at the escape of his elusive dream. Yet although he did not win, maybe because he expressed his disappointment so openly rather than let it fester inside, he recovered quickly, keeping his focus on becoming the best player he could be. A few weeks after his Wimbledon defeat he savoured the sweet taste of victory at the same venue when he claimed Olympic gold, beating the Swiss man who had stolen the Wimbledon crown from him.
Of all the tennis tournaments in the world Wimbledon is the one players most dream of winning. It is the queen of the four Grand Slams, played on grass in the middle of England’s summer. Light lasts on these balmy days, allowing long matches to continue far into the evening. England’s mercurial weather can throw rain into the mix, causing frustrating delays to play, sometimes suspending matches at crucial moments.
The Scot is a remarkable man. He is a survivor of the Dunblane Massacre of 1996 when a shooter entered his school and killed 16 children and a teacher. At the age of 15 he chose to go and live in Spain to get the quality of teaching and competition he needed to progress his game – a remarkably clear-sighted and mature decision for one so young. Murray has a knee condition – bipartite capella – which means he has a kneecap made of two bones rather than one; this can give him pain when playing and needs ongoing management. The tennis player has never topped the polls in popularity contests; when interviewed by the media he rarely seems completely at ease. He chooses to put all his energy, all his determination, into his game.
July 7 2013. A blisteringly hot summer’s day. Andy Murray enters Wimbledon’s Centre Court with the crowd behind him, willing him to do the unthinkable, to make history by beating Novak Djokovic. The men are evenly matched; Murray may have the edge on grass but his opponent has won most of their battles to date. This match is as much about mindset as talent – keeping calm, taking the games point by point, not letting emotion blind talent, override focus or destroy rationalism.
Murray takes the first set 6-4. This set does not go with serve – Murray breaks the Serb twice and is broken once by his opponent. The roar of the crowd, the ultimate British tennis achievement in sight, supports their man in his endeavours. At 5-4 to Djokovic in the second set play looks set to even out, yet somehow Murray calls on deep reserves of strength, skill and desire to win the next three games and take the set. By now the crowd is wild – they can smell victory. The third set is hard-fought, the last game one of the most nerve-wracking in tennis history. Murray loses three championship points in a row, surviving two deuces before once again serving for the match; this time, it is enough. In a match lasting just over three hours Andy Murray has become the new Wimbledon champion, the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years.