Alan Pattullo: Murray halted by ‘Messi’ of tennis

Djokovic defended his Wimbledon title with a four-set final win. Picture: Getty
Djokovic defended his Wimbledon title with a four-set final win. Picture: Getty
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With Amelie Mauresmo, his heavily pregnant coach, looking on from the players’ box, Andy Murray could not deliver a second Wimbledon singles title that was looking increasingly more likely as the fortnight progressed, writes Alan Pattullo.

Hopes had started to swell as Murray dealt comfortably with each challenge that came his way before having the misfortune to run into an inspired Roger Federer in the semi-final.

It was a painful end to a tournament for home fans, or at least those who do not count themselves in the popular Federer’s camp.

Yet again, the Swiss genius was the fly in the ointment for Murray, who had enjoyed a straightforward passage to the last four with the loss of just two sets. But disappointment also lay in store for the loyal Federer fans, whose hero was helpless in the face of Novak Djokovic’s relentless march through a year in which he won three out of four Grand Slam singles titles.

With both having been named in the bottom half of the draw, Murray gained from Rafael Nadal’s early shock exit at the hands of the briefly inspired world No 102 Dustin Brown in one of the most memorable matches of the tournament.

The dreadlocked Brown even dismissed one question about his appearance with a wonderfully off-hand reply: “I could be sitting here saying, why are all you guys so different?”

With his trick shots and deft drop shots he was a fun addition to the staid Wimbledon landscape. The outspoken, spiky Australian Nick Kyrgios was perhaps not so welcome, taking his leave of the competition via a series of code violations in the fourth round, beaten by eventual semi-finalist Richard Gasquet.

As so often happens, Brown could not sustain the excellence shown against Nadal, going down in the next round to Victor Troicki, who then lost to Vasek Pospisil, Murray’s opponent in the last eight.

The Scot had already coped with the big-serving Ivo Karlovic and was even more ruthless when overcoming a weary Pospisil’s limited challenge. But Murray came unstuck in straight sets against Federer, whose brilliance on the Friday afternoon on Centre Court inspired the Scot to later compare him to football’s own phenomenon, Lionel Messi. “He makes it look so easy,” Murray admitted.

But Federer had no answer to the remorseless Djokovic, who retained his Wimbledon crown with a victory in four sets before bending down to pluck some blades of grass from Centre Court and putting them in his mouth. This curious ritual began after his first Wimbledon triumph, in 2011.

The custom-conscious Djokovic then also revived an old Wimbledon tradition later that same evening when waltzing with the ladies singles champion, the remarkable Serena Williams, at the Champions’ Ball.

Williams survived a scare against British No 1 Heather Watson in a thrilling third round encounter in front of a rowdy Centre Court audience. At one point Williams turned to the partisan crowd and wagged her finger, mouthing the words: “Don’t try me”.

Watson served for the match in the third set but Williams turned things round, and, while there were other stumbles on the way, she clinched her sixth singles Wimbledon title against the Venezuela-born Garbine Muguruza. It sealed another “Serena Slam”, meaning she was more than deserving of a twirl with Djokovic in a reprise of the Night Fever dance routine from the film Saturday Night Fever.

It was an especially disappointing final weekend in SW17 from a Scottish perspective. Already denied the chance to cheer on Andy Murray in the final, there was further frustration for Scottish fans when Jamie, his brother, and John Peers lost the doubles final against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau on the Saturday evening.

Andy made a brief appearance in a baseball cap to cheer on Jamie and Peers, but they lost in straight sets. The following day Gordon Reid, from Helensburgh, also lost in the final of the men’s wheelchair doubles final, with French playing partner Michael Jeremiasz.