He burst out of the blocks with an early break, he peppered Federer’s backhand. The sun was shining, he was doing everything right. Then, the hopes of a nation were evaporated with every scintillating Federer stroke.
The early stages were encouraging for Murray, Federer had an astonishing 5 unforced errors in the first 3 games. Murray seemed to have so much more power than the Swiss master, he was preying on Federer’s backhand and his first serves were powerful and consistent. The first set was won with aplomb.
Then it all started to unravel, Federer clicked into gear and from then on Murray was powerless to resist as the Swiss unleashed a breathtaking array of shots. To be Murray, was to be an innocent bystander watching an artist at work.
Murray did not play badly, that cannot, and hopefully will not, be an accusation by the uncompromising British media. There is no shame in losing to Roger Federer, just like there was no shame in losing to Pete Sampras. As the match unraveled for Murray, so did the weapons which could have hurt Federer. His aces became less frequent, his peppering of Federer’s backhand became more of a sprinkling. And without those weapons, he was left looking like a rabbit in Federer’s increasingly bright headlights.
Federer had clearly cottoned onto Murray’s understandable ploy, to play on his weaker backhand. He wouldn’t allow it, even if it might have made it a fair fight, as he ran round each Murray ground stroke to power away yet another crunching forehand.
Murray can be proud of his achievements in this tournament, he had a tough draw from the start (admittedly not having to face Nadal in the semis made it easier) and at least provided the long suffering British tennis fans with at least a glimmer of hope that this might be the year.
This was Federer’s 7th Wimbledon title. He is like an adopted son to the Centre Court crowd and if it wasn’t to be Murray, they would have been glad to cheer on arguably the greatest tennis player ever.
I say arguably when, really, it shouldn’t be that arguable. Federer has shone above all others in the undoubted golden age of the sport. The ‘greatest ever’ debate will surely do the rounds after this victory and unlike football’s, it really ought to be much more straightforward.
They said this was Murray’s best chance of finally winning that much wished for Grand Slam, and it probably was since Nadal’s early exit provided a much easier path to the final. But the simple truth is, he just wasn’t good enough, and might not be for some time yet. The top three are so much better than everyone else, they may as well just constantly play each other.
Perhaps frustratingly for Murray, he is far far better than everyone else too. He just isn’t on the same level as the others. If Murray is to ever win a Slam, he might have to wait for retirements or injury to strike his seemingly unstoppable opponents.
For now, he has to bow to the Swiss master.