WIMBLEDON, England -- As an adoring nation watched and roared, Andy Murray ended 77 years of frustration at Wimbledon by defeating No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, on Sunday to become the first British man to win the singles championship since Fred Perry triumphed in 1936.
Murray, ranked No. 2 in the world, rode out a lull in the third set to win his first Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam event. He had previously won the U.S. Open in 2012, beating Djokovic for that honor.
The last British tennis player to win a singles title here was Virginia Wade, in 1977.
Murray, who lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer a year ago, was foiled on his first three championship points in the third set Sunday, in keeping with the long games he and Djokovic had played under a broiling sun. The game went to deuce four times before Murray finally
prevailed, setting off roars in the stadium and, undoubtedly, around the country.
When Murray realized that Djokovic’s backhander had gone into the net and that the title was his, he pumped his fists and grinned. He hugged Djokovic, whom he has played against since they were both 11 years old, before kneeling on the grass in relief and exultation, eventually climbing toward the box where his friends and family sat. He began to descend toward the court for the awards ceremony and almost forgot to hug his tearful mother, Judy, but went back to hug her.
“I just heard her screaming behind me and I went back,” he said during an on-court interview.
In a nice moment, TV cameras caught Djokovic’s parents hugging Judy Murray.
Murray said he was simply glad to get through a grueling final game and final point as he held off an attempted comeback by Djokovic. Murray was only beginning to realize the magnitude of his feat in the first few moments after the match.
“It feels slightly different to last year,” Murray said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “I hope you guys enjoyed it. I tried my best.”
Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and a six-time Grand Slam tournament winner, had won his previous three matches against Murray -- including at this year’s Australian Open -- and each time had rallied after Murray had won the first set. But Murray, though vexed sometimes in the third set, wouldn’t be stopped this time.
“Congratulations to him and to you guys. I know how much this means to the country,” Djokovic said in an on-court interview. “I’m aware of the pressure that he gets.... It’s a great achievement.
“I gave it all. It was an asbolute pleasure and honor to be part of this match, this final.”
The first set took 59 minutes and featured countless long rallies. Murray had three break points in the first game but Djokovic held him off; Murray had four more break points in the third game before finally getting that break for a 2-1 lead.
However, Djokovic broke back and then held for a 3-2 lead. Murray then gained another break, at love, after Djokovic sent a backhand into the net.
Murray double-faulted twice to start the eighth game, which went to deuce four times before Djokovic hit a long forehand and then a forehand into the net to give Murray a 5-3 lead.
Djokovic held his serve, but Murray won his service game at love and cashed in on his first set point when Djokovic sent a return wide.
Djokovic appeared to steady himself in the second set, breaking Murray in the fourth game and building a 4-1 lead. But Murray, pushed by the crowd at every turn, came back to level the set at 4-4 after converting the second of two break points in the eighth game.
Perhaps Djokovic was feeling the effects of his 4-hour, 43-minute, five-set semifinal victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday, the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history. He held service to take a 5-4 lead but committed a series of unforced errors that allowed Murray to pull even at 5-5 and then for Murray to break him for a 6-5 lead. The crowd, riding on every move, roared as Murray capitalized on his second break point and gave him a standing ovation when he hit an ace to win the next game at love to win the set, which took 69 minutes to complete.
Djokovic simply seemed to have nothing left as the third set began and Murray won the first two games, but Djokovic found the strength to push back. He won three games in a row to go up, 3-2, with the help of a volley by Murray that dropped just wide and allowed Djokovic to get the break.
Suddenly, Murray seemed to be feeling the pressure and Djokovic gained strength from it. Resorting to more drop shots that seemed to catch Murray wrong-footed, Djokovic broke Murray’s serve again for a 4-2 lead and there was no question that the momentum had drastically shifted toward
Murray halted that momentum by breaking Djokovic’s serve to cut his lead to 4-3. Murray pulled even at 4-4 with a running forehand on game point and then played out a great game to take a 5-4 lead, coming up with a beautiful passing shot to set up break point and winning the game when Djokovic hit a forehand into the net.