Heart-wrenching though it was to lose after taking the first set, Murray can take heart from Federer’s belief that he will definitely win a Grand Slam title.
Murray himself is confident that he can respond in the right fashion. The Scot reflected on a tweet he had received at the weekend from LeBron James, the Miami Heat basketball star who finally won the NBA championship this year after years of coming up short. He had thanked Murray for the “shout out” last week when the Scot had name-checked him in a press conference. He told him that he would be willing him on yesterday from the States.
“I haven’t been on Twitter for a number of weeks now, but I heard about it and I asked my management company if they could thank him for saying that,” said Murray. “Stories like his are inspiring for me. It kind of gives you that extra belief. You know, sometimes guys have taken much longer than others. After he lost in the NBA finals last year, he said he was having to go through a lot of nightmares before he reaches his dream. I think I am in a similar situation right now. It doesn’t get easier. When you lose it’s hard, it’s tough to take. But you need to show strength of character to come back from it. Hopefully one day you get there.”
Murray’s own coach can tell him all about the qualities required to bounce back from heart-aching defeat. Like Murray, he lost his first four Grand Slam finals, and then responded by eventually winning a total of eight titles. At 25, this might now be beyond Murray. However, he denied he is now “desperate” to bring the famine to an end, since it implies that he is losing focus. If anything, this Wimbledon has shown how controlled he has become, even if, at the end, it had all got a bit much.
The Scot’s eyes were still moist as he endured another difficult assignment of trying to put the pain of a fourth grand slam final defeat into words. He met the media only a few minutes after he had left the court with the runner’s up silver plate. Murray revealed he apologised to Federer after fearing he had stolen his show at the end, when he broke down in tears as he attempted to address the spectators on Centre Court, after the Swiss had claimed victory in four sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
“I just said to him, sorry,” revealed Murray. “I didn’t obviously want that to happen. You feel that you are attention-seeking or something. It was not like that at all. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it [the interview], but I tried,” he added. “I have seen Roger do the same thing a couple of times before, so he kind of knows what it is like. He just laughed. He said: ‘this is meant to be the easy part, doing the speeches after the match’. But sometimes it feels quite hard compared to playing a tennis match.”
But even on the court itself, as play raged on and Murray’s hopes of winning a first Grand slam title were bouyed by winning the first set, the Scot knew he was in the ultimate battle. Federer has now cemented his place in the pantheon of sporting greats by winning a first Grand Slam title since 2010 at the Australian Open, where he again defeated Murray. The Scot was asked whether his tears at the end were born from the knowledge that this had been his best chance of a maiden victory. Murray again bridled at this, since it suggests that Federer is vulnerable and a declining force.
“I am playing the wrong sport if I wasn’t emotional,” he said, with the presence of all his family at yesterday’s final having made it all an even more difficult experience. “The chance is gone, I can’t take the match back obviously. But was it my best chance? I don’t know. It was my first time being in a final [at Wimbledon]. It was good to get there. I lost to a guy who’s won this tournament seven times and is No 1 in the world. If that’s your best chance, then...
“We are talking about one of the best athletes of all time. You have to put it in context a little bit.”
Murray noted that Federer had played with more aggression on the Scot’s serve after the roof had been put in place, following a shower of rain at just after 4pm. The score stood at 1-1 in the third set, with Federer having pulled hmself back into contention. “Because he has excellent timing, when there is no wind or anything under the roof, he times the ball very, very well. He was able to go for his shots a bit more. He felt a bit more secure probably.”
Murray felt it was the best he had played in a grand slam final to date. “Even in the last two sets, I still had the chances. It wasn’t like I gave away bad games. I played a good match. I made pretty good decisions for the most part, I am happy with that.” The match had been affected by the roof closure, he reckoned. “The way the court plays is a bit different,” he said. “I think he served very well with the roof closed. He served better. I think he has not lost an indoor matc since 2010. He plays well under the roof.”