Andy Murray joins the nearly men of British tennis
ANDY Murray was the first Briton to reach a Wimbledon men’s singles final since Bunny Austin, but becoming the first home champion in the event since Fred Perry in 1936 proved beyond him today.
He will have more chances, and is Britain’s best hope of ending the long wait, but it goes on. Perry’s US Open title in 1936 was Britain’s last men’s singles slam anywhere. Murray has now lost in four slam finals.
Here are the men who went close to ending the grand slam drought before Murray’s emergence . . .
Henry ‘Bunny’ Austin was a contemporary of Perry. He was a finalist at Wimbledon in 1932 and had further chances to win slams after Perry’s last title, but he lost in the French Open final of 1937 and the Wimbledon showpiece in 1938. Austin died on his 94th birthday in 2000.
Taylor fell short of reaching a grand slam singles final, but he went close. Three decades after Austin and Perry thrived, Taylor got to the semi-finals of Wimbledon for the first time in 1967 and then did so again in 1970 – defeating defending champion Rod Laver en route – and 1973. He also made the last four at the Australian Open in 1970 and won back-to-back men’s doubles titles at the US Open in 1971 and 1972. He retired in 1980 and was Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain from 2000 to 2004.
Murray’s former Davis Cup captain reached the final of the Australian Open in 1977, losing 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 3-6, 6-2 to Vitas Gerulaitis. A classical serve-volley player, Lloyd enjoyed grass-court tennis but struggled with the pressure of expectation at Wimbledon and did not make it beyond the third round, although he did win the mixed doubles title with Australia’s Wendy Turnbull in 1983 and 1984. He was part of tennis’ golden couple with Chris Evert, to whom he was married for eight years from 1979.
Rusedski switched his allegiance from Canada, where he was born and grew up with his British mother and German-born father, in 1995. With a fearsome serve, he quickly developed and enjoyed the best year of his career in 1997, when he reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and then the final of the US Open, losing 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to Pat Rafter. That lifted him to world No 4, while he also won the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. Rusedski held the world record for the fastest serve at 149mph for five years before he was usurped by Andy Roddick.
Henman’s travails at Wimbledon became a national obsession. His classic game and clean-cut image endeared him to the SW19 crowd and he reached the semi-finals on four occasions, in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002. His best chance of making a final came in 2001 when he faced wild card Goran Ivanisevic in the last four, but rain interruptions helped the eccentric Croatian who went on to record an emotional triumph. In 2004, grass-court specialist Henman surprisingly made the last four at both the French and US Opens. He reached a career-high ranking of No 4 and won a silver medal in doubles at the 1996 Olympics.
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