SO NEAR and yet so far. As Andy Murray’s Wimbledon dream came to an end for another year tonight, the British number one broke down in tears.
He recovered to thank the country for supporting his brave attempt to become Britain’s first men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for 76 years.
Murray had carried the hopes of a nation on his broad shoulders, battling to win his first ever Grand Slam title. But there was more heartbreak after a thrilling four-set match against Roger Federer.
Struggling to contain his emotions, Murray broke down in tears minutes after the game.
Speaking to the crowd on Centre Court and the rest of the country on television, he found it difficult to express himself after the defeat. Clearly holding back more tears, he said: “I’m going to try this and it’s not going to be easy. Everyone who supported me through this tournament did a great job. It is always tough, so thank you.
“Everybody always talks about the pressure of playing at Wimbledon, how tough it is, but the people watching, they make it so much easier to play.
“The support has been incredible, so thank you.”
Although obviously devastated, Murray did manage a smile and a joke as he told the crowd, who had cheered every shot and stayed with him when even when he was losing point, that he was “getting closer” to an elusive Grand Slam victory.
Gracious in defeat, Murray praised Federer’s skill, which saw the Swiss tennis star equal Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles.
The Scot said: “People said it was my best chance – you know Roger is 30 now and he is not bad for a 30-year-old. He showed what fight he still has left in himself.”
Federer, whose victory saw him return to the world No 1 ranking, complimented Murray and said he believed he would win at least one major title.
He said: “I think he will at least win one Grand Slam. This is what I hope for Andy. I think I played some of my best tennis in the last couple of matches. It feel nice to get my hands back on the trophy.”
Murray looked on course for a stunning victory when winning the opening set. He was on top for much of the second set, but Federer hit top form at the perfect moment to level the match, and the Swiss was simply too good in the third and fourth, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
An estimated 20 million
people across the UK tuned in to watch the final.
Murray’s mother, Judy, made her pride clear online. She took to Twitter to praise her son’s valiant effort, tweeting a picture of champagne and saying: “Lots to celebrate… Amazing day. Amazing tourney. Amazing son.”
The Scottish tennis ace’s home town of Dunblane came to a standstill as locals crammed into pubs and hotels to watch their local hero in action.
Many locals broke down in tears when Murray lost in the fourth set, but they agreed he had done them proud.
Murray’s grandmother, Ellen Murray, 78, watched the match at home in Scotland with his grandad, Gordon. She said she was devastated.
She said: “I’m shocked. I did watch the match and I’m just very upset.”
Alex Salmond was full of praise for the Scot, describing the Centre Court match, which he attended, as “outstanding”.
The First Minister said: “Andy did Scotland proud. For Andy, there is not just next year, but a he is getting ever closer to that Grand Slam breakthrough.”