Four weeks ago to the day, Andy Murray reduced this nation to tears when he broke down and cried on Centre Court after a heartbreaking defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. On Sunday afternoon, on the same grass court, against the same opponent, under a brilliant blue sky, the Scotsman enchanted the country with an Olympic gold medal.
Murray dominated the Swiss seven-time Wimbledon champion 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 as a boisterous audience rooted him on with “C’mon Andy!” When he served an ace to clinch the gold, the crowd of 15,000 erupted, as did thousands more gathered just outside the stadium on Henman Hill, which has been renamed Murray Mound.
Impromptu celebrations were reported all over London, from the San Pancras train station to Olympic Park to Hyde Park, where throngs of fans watched on giant screens.
Murray’s victory came the morning after Great Britain ruled at the track and field venue, with golden girl Jessica Ennis winning gold in the heptathlon, Mo Farah winning the 10,000 and Greg Rutherford taking the long jump gold. The gold rush continued on Centre Court.
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Murray celebrated by climbing into the stands to hug his family and friends, then pumped his fists a few times and wrapped his shoulders in the Union Jack flag.
“It’s definitely easier winning in the final [than losing],” Murray said upon leaving the court. “I played a good match. It was quite tough conditions, very windy, but I did well. It’s No. 1 for me, biggest win of my life. This week’s been incredible for me. The atmosphere, the support’s been amazing.”
He said the British track success inspired him. Murray does a lot of training on the track at the University of Miami during the offseason.
“I watched the athletics [Saturday] night; it was amazing, just amazing,” he said. “The way Mo Farah won — I do 400-meter repetitions in my training, and when I’m completely fresh I can run it in 57 seconds. His last lap after running 9,600 meters was 53 seconds. Just unbelievable fitness, and it gave me a boost.”
Murray conceded he was drained after Wimbledon, and the Olympics on home soil gave him the infusion of energy he needed.
“I was a little bit tired after Wimbledon, but I felt so fresh on the court today. I didn’t feel nervous at all, apart from at the beginning of the match. I’ve had a lot of tough losses in my career, and this was the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I’ll never forget it.”
Murray followed his singles gold with a silver in mixed doubles. He and Laura Robson lost 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 to Belarussians Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka.
Federer, who had lost only one final on Wimbledon’s Centre Court before Sunday, insisted he was proud of his silver medal.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I’m satisfied. I think this is as good as I could do. Andy was much better than I was [Sunday] in many aspects of the game. For me, it’s been a great month. I won Wimbledon, became world No. 1 again, and I got silver. Don’t feel too bad for me.”
Federer suggested perhaps he was sapped emotionally after the marathon semifinal win over Juan Martin del Potro, which stretched to 19-17 in the third set. Del Potro, of Argentina, won the bronze medal Sunday 7-5, 6-4 over Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
“Maybe there was so much emotion already out of me that potentially that kind of hindered me from playing my absolute very best, but then again, that’s just trying to come up with excuses,” Federer said. “I am happy for Andy that he was able to bring such a performance and bring home gold for Great Britain. It’s a long time coming for him.”
No British man has won a Wimbledon singles title since 1936, and that still remains true. But Murray’s win Sunday will go down in history as one of the greatest days in British tennis and, said former English star Tim Henman who also failed to win a major, “a huge stepping-stone in Andy’s career.”