Murray crushes Raonic to cement a place in sporting history
Scottish tennis hero claimed his second Wimbledon title in a very un-British fashion by taking control on Centre Court
Andy Murray's second Wimbledon triumph, achieved against the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic on Centre Court yesterday, has cemented his place in British sporting history and earned him a third Grand Slam title.
It was a ruthless performance by Murray in his 11th major final and the first in which he was not taking on the world number one.
Murray broke Raonic in the seventh game of the first set to take an early lead and then kept the Canadian at bay in the next two sets before taking control in the tie-break, eventually winning 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2).
Not only did Murray refuse to buckle under the weight of the Raonic serve, he also held his own service games with efficiency to ensure that his opponent was always under pressure.
"This was a fortnight of total control, a campaign almost without flaws, a final assault where every objective was taken exactly as planned," says Tom Fordyce of the BBC. "Two sets lost in two weeks. Only two break points conceded in almost three hours. An opponent who had hit 137 aces in his previous six matches kept down to just eight in the entire contest.
"If it appeared almost cold-blooded in its brilliance, the warm golden glow from this win will spread far beyond a celebratory Centre Court."
Murray was always in control, says Simon Briggs of the Daily Telegraph. "Perhaps the greatest tribute to Murray was that the match never developed a narrative arc," he says.
It was telling that he kept large parts of his repertoire in reserve, says Briggs, who describes the weapons he chose not to deploy as the "dogs that didn't bark in the night".
"Murray barely used the drop shot at all, kept his lethal backhand up the line under wraps, and declined to go for broke on second-serve returns, preferring to build pressure by returning as many balls as possible. Had Raonic hit a seam of inspiration, these were all options he could have fallen back on. As it happened, Plan A did the job perfectly well."
This was not the sort of performance the British sporting public is used to, says Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail.
"We are so used to tension, so familiar with the rattled nerves and shredded fingernails that it seemed almost unreal to watch this procession," he writes. "Murray went to two tiebreaks – the tennis equivalent of the penalty shootout – and won both so forcefully (7-3, 7-2) one almost felt moved to check his passport to see if he really is one of us.
"He's damn good at tennis, so already feels a little alien, but to be this special, and also so cool under pressure, is hardly a trait in British sport. Where was the unnecessary complication, the fear, the inevitable loss of focus and direction?"
Perhaps his will has been forged in the crucible built by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – the three players who have so often thwarted Murray's dreams.
Their spirits seemed to hover over Centre Court says Matthew Syed of The Times for they have been as responsible as anyone for creating the player Murray has become.
"To play against such athletes, to lose to them, but to have the resilience to learn in the trying, has taken Murray to levels that few imagined when he arrived on the circuit, fragile of body and mind, as a teenager," he says.
And the statistics back it up. Murray has appeared in the same number of Grand Slam finals (11) as John McEnroe and Stefan Edberg and more than Boris Becker, notes Sean Ingle in The Guardian.
"The difference is those legends did not have to meet peak Federer or peak Djokovic – as Murray did in his first ten finals. It meant that even when he was staring down Milos Raonic and his 140mph howitzers, he was slipping down in grade.
"One stat shouts louder than most about Murray's dominance against everyone outside the big three: against them his win-loss record in grand slam semi-finals and finals is won four, lost 17 – but it is 10-0 against everyone else. He is, by a long way, the very best of the rest."
Paul Hayward of the Telegraph agrees. "The difference between winning Wimbledon once and winning it again is huge," he says. "And few would bet against Murray matching Fred Perry's three singles title wins. To judge his career against a yardstick from the 1930s might seem a little passe. But it helps to have new targets now that he has erased any doubt about his pedigree."