Sobbing Murray relieved to end losing grand slam run
Once the immediate euphoria of winning Wimbledon for a second time had subsided, the tears flowing down Andy Murray’s face bore testament to the sheer relief surging through his body.
Instead of charging up the stands to hug his nearest and dearest — as he had done in 2013 when he ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion — Murray slumped in his chair and sobbed into a towel just relieved to have ended a 36-month search for a third grand slam title.
Sunday’s 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(2) victory over Milos Raonic ended a barren stretch that had included coming off second best in this year’s Australian and French Open finals to his nemesis-in-chief, Novak Djokovic.
While the world number one’s shock third-round departure from Wimbledon elevated Murray to title favourite, he also knew that one false move on Sunday could leave him with the dubious distinction of becoming the first man in the professional era to lose the finals of the season’s first three grand slams.
“I’m just really proud that I managed to do it again after a lot of tough losses in the latter stages of the slams over the last couple of years,” said Murray, who became the first British man since Fred Perry in the 1930s to have his name engraved more than once on the gilded surface of the Challenge Cup.
“This win feels extra special because of the tough losses,” he added.
“I’m also proud to get my hands on the trophy again as I’m aware of how difficult these competitions are to win once,” Murray said.
“To do it twice here, an event where there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well … I’m very proud with how I’ve handled that over the years.”
With the 15,000-strong crowd, including greats such as Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker, roaring their approval, there was one man on Centre Court who maintained a poker face throughout the jubilant celebrations.
A month after rekindling his coaching relationship with Murray following a two-year hiatus, it was job done for Ivan Lendl as Murray’s win-loss record during the grasscourt season improved to 12-0.
Lendl has now proved that when it comes to Murray, he is the coach with the Midas touch.
During their first spell together from 2012 to 2014, the Scot won his previous two slam titles and the Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games.
So why does the relationship work so well?
“Ivan’s a leader. That’s important,” Murray said.
“I trust in what he says, mainly because of the results we had the last time we worked together. I played my best tennis under him,” he added.
“He was always trying to get me to play more offensive tennis. I did that and got results from it.
“He’s very honest with me. He says exactly what he thinks. (I) don’t always like hearing it but it is often what I need to hear.”
In Lendl’s absence, Murray had reached three major finals but each time Djokovic had proved to be a recurring nightmare that simply would not go away.
However, after winning only two of his previous 10 slam finals, the world number two hopes Sunday’s victory and his reunion with Lendl will put him on the path to re-addressing that imbalance.
“I still feel like my best tennis is ahead of me, that I have an opportunity to win more,” the 29-year-old said.
“Everyone’s time comes at different stages. Some come in their early 20s, some mid 20s. Hopefully mine is still to come.”