Andy Murray was at his devastating best as he romped to a 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory over his nemesis Roger Federer to avenge his heart breaking loss to the Swiss a month ago and clinch a hugely popular Gold medal for Britain at the Olympics in London. Returning to the venue of the Grand Slam defeat, Murray was supremely dominant over his illustrious opponent as he went about enthralling the partisan crowd on center court in the one sided final that lasted just under two hours. The third seed took command in the sixth game of the first set and raced to victory with an unrelenting focus that saw him clinch the match with two successive aces.
Murray got off to a nervy start and a backhand into the net offered Federer a double break point in the very first game. But the Swiss decided to return the compliments, dumping a couple of backhands into the net to squander the opportunity.
Eventually, it was Murray who struck first. In the sixth game, Federer had a game point but pulled his backhand wide to slip to deuce. A couple of break points followed and while Murray spurned the first by finding the net, Federer helped him on the second when he failed to clear the tape with his backhand.
Federer served to stay in the first set at 2-5 and Murray pounced on a juicy serve to earn a set point. A powerful backhand down the line winner sealed the set and what followed, was a complete capitulation of the man who won seven grand titles on the center court. Buoyed by the results from his own determined aggression and Federer’s unseemly tentativeness, the Scot pounced on the Swiss genius like a hungry Lion thirsting for blood.
At the start of the second set, Federer dug himself into a deep hole when he made a couple of errors to fall behind 0-30. On the next point, Murray’s forehand clipped the net before falling over to the other side. Down three break points, Federer indulged in a duel at net that he lost to fall behind 0-2.
There was a spark of hope for the Swiss when he struck a rasping cross-court forehand to go up 0-30 in the third game. Murray sent a forehand wide to offer double break point at 15-40, but retrieved the situation first with a serve down the middle and then by winning an entertaining duel at the net in which Federer had the upper hand but failed to capitalize. Murray was at his combative best as he went on to save four more break points.
By now the third game resembled a boxing bout rather than a game of tennis in an English garden. Murray finally had a game point after six break points, but found the net from the back of the court to bring up yet another deuce. Finally though on the next game point, Federer flailed a backhand beyond the baseline to let Murray take a 3-0 lead.
A brilliant return allowed Murray to deuce in the next game, before the Scot trumped his opponent in an extended rally to earn a break point. Federer saved that with a booming serve, but another followed soon and this time Federer made an uncharacteristic double fault to fall back to 0-4 in the second set.
Federer finally broke a sequence of nine games for Murray by holding serve to avoid a bagel on the grandest stage in sport. But that was all he could avoid, as Murray held off a fighting Federer in the next game to take a commanding two set lead.
Desperate fans around the world must have been looking for signs of life in the old dog, and they must have felt encouraged to see the Swiss hold confidently to love at the start of the third set. But then Murray was intent on keeping the foot on the pedal and ensured Federer did not get a sniff to find his way back into the contest.
Murray kept his foot firmly on the throat of his prey as he prowled the court with purpose and held to love at 2-2. A looping forehand from Murray was too good for a fading Federer and a sharp drive to his feet offered two break points to the Scot. He burnt the grass on the next point with a fiery backhand cross court winner to seal the decisive break at 3-2.
By the eighth game the writing was on the wall, Murray had the match firmly under control when he held serve to 5-3, without losing a single point on his serve in the third set. Federer ensured Murray served out for the Gold with a hold to love.
In the final game, Federer launched himself into a second serve to draw level at 15-15. But any hopes of a fight back were crushed by Murray who followed up a service winner with two consecutive aces to ensure that Federer had no further say in the contest. The serial champion had dreamt of success in London for a long time, but in the moment of reckoning he failed to bring out his best and had to be content with Silver.
“I have had a lot of tough losses in my career and this is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final,” said Murray. “This is one of the biggest wins of my life.” Murray could double his Golden joy as he is also in the mixed doubles finals with Laura Robson.
It was a most unlikely and shocking demolition of Federer, most remarkable, considering that this mauling came at the hands of Murray on the grass courts of Wimbledon. But Murray was a man possessed and he went about handing Federer the worst loss of his career on the much hallowed center court turf. The underdog won and that is something the English can easily identify with.
British fans cheered the champion boisterously, and there were tears too. But this time these were tears of joy as Murray clambered up to the players’ box to hug his team and family, starting with his equally delighted mother. It could yet be the beginning of a revitalized journey for the Scot who could now set out to conquer other peaks and return victorious this time.