Where the Wimbledon final was lost
The 28th game was rguably the most influential game of the entire championship, this 20-minute marathon saw Murray lose his serve at 3-2 down with the match tied at 1-1.
He appeared to be cruising at 40-love but two Federer backhands got it back to 40-30, before the Swiss made it deuce. Murray offered up five break points – saving them all – while he slipped three times on the dewy surface, once when hitting from close-in, once at the back of the court, and again as he scampered after an escape lob from Federer. Murray had chances of his own to put the game away, but committed error after error and, when he could hold back the tide no longer, Federer pounded the most crucial of forehand winners. Murray’s hitting of his own head said it all.
In the first set, Federer looked nothing like the man who had won 16 grand slam titles. Indeed he committed 16 unforced errors. He was slapping forehands long – a volleyed miss giving Murray an early break – and looked out of sorts. But he reduced the error count to eight in the second, six in the third and eight in the fourth as he displayed his champion qualities. Murray went the other way, starting sharply but losing his way as the match went on, wasting three break points in the third set and another in the fourth. He put a simple forehand wide when serving to stay in the second set and somehow let a 40-love lead slide into a break midway through the third. Equally in the fourth, when 30-15 up on Federer’s serve, he hit long when faced with an open court.
While Federer chanced his arm in the opening set the move did not pay off, with his approach seeing him commit a number of errors. He found his range as the match went on though, never more so than when he won the second set with a delightful drop shot. He ended with 62 winners to Murray’s 46 – other crucial ones being a ripped forehand to break in the third set and a flashing backhand in the fourth.
Both men took the opportunities that came their way in the opener – Murray breaking twice and Federer once – but after that the Swiss was the cooler man. He squandered five break points in the marathon third-set game, but crucially took one with a punched forehand to break Murray’s resolve. He took the sole opportunity that came his way in the fourth too, unlike Murray. Federer ended with a break-point conversion rate of 33 per cent and Murray 29 per cent.
While he may not want to use it as a cause, Murray could count himself slightly unlucky. After the roof was closed he kept losing his footing en route to losing his serve in the third set – a break from which he never really recovered.
Even when losing the first set Federer showed little emotion, and for a long time Murray appeared to be keeping himself in check too. But, as little things started to go against him, his frustrations began to materialise. He hit himself in the face when losing serve in the third set and was chuntering to himself in the fourth as the match slipped out of his reach.
Early on Murray looked to hit to Federer’s forehand regularly and the move paid off as he took the opening set. After that, Federer started to head to the net, looking to put Murray under pressure and, despite an initial struggle, the switch was a positive one as he won 53 of his 68 points at the net – a 78 per cent success rate. Federer was also the most comfortable player in rallying too, winning 55 per cent of the points that lasted three to eight shots and 57 per cent of ones that were nine of longer.
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