WIMBLEDON: The Finals
By Chad Hoyle
A surprise-filled fortnight ended in dominant fashion for the Men's and Women's Singles events. Not only did both draws ended in straight set victories, but also amounted to the first titles at the All England Club for each victor.
Carrying the weight of his nation on his shoulders, Andy Murray gave the performance of his lifetime against first-seeded Novak Djokovic and became the first British man in 77 years to win the singles event at the All England Club.
Murray, who has perennially seemed like always the bridesmaid but never the bride, has found another gear in the preceding twelve months up to Wimbledon. Last September in Flushing Meadow, Murray defeated Djokovic in the US Open Finals for his first Grand Slam victory in five career finals appearances.
Murray entered the tournament as the 2 seed after withdrawing from contention in the French Open due to back issues. Underdog to only his finals opponent, Murray had the full support of Great Britain, who witnessed him win Olympic Gold on the same court only a year ago. Murray was also the beneficiary of a weakened late draw in a tournament that saw many strong contenders exit uncharacteristically early. (Read: The Grass Massacre- http://www.990wbob.com/2/post/2013/06/wimbledon-the-grass-massacre.html)
The tension was palpable throughout the match, not only between the two athletes, but also among the anxious spectators at Centre Court. The crowd inside was brimming with excitement as Murray moved closer to the title, and even erupted in some premature celebrations in a tense final set that saw four deuces and three match point opportunities.
In the end, Murray defeated Djokovic, who had not dropped a set in the tournament entering the finals, in three straight- 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. The Brit battled from behind in each set, and seemed spry in comparison to Djokovic, who was coming off a nearly 5 hour epic semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro. Murray also managed to break Djokovic’s service 8 times in the match- a sharp contrast to the 6 total times the Serbian was broken throughout the fortnight.
On the women’s side, Marion Bartoli won her first career slam event in resounding fashion against Cinderella-story Sabine Lisicki. Both women, like Murray in the Men's, benefitted from a depleted Women’s draw that was anyone’s to win once Serena Willams was bumped from contention. However, Bartoli seemed to be at the top of her game throughout the seven tournament matches in which she never lost a set.
Bartoli had faced and fell to Venus Williams in the finals in 2007, while Lisicki had never been to a grand slam final in her career. After being pounded into the grass 6-1, 6-4, the young German with the super-human serve now has her own devastating loss to motivate her future attempts. “She’s been in this situation before, handled it well, and she deserves it” said Lisicki, hoping to one day capitalize on her finals experience like her recent French opponent.
The athletes will now have several weeks to prepare for the hard blue surface of the U.S. Open, which begins August 26th in Brooklyn, NY.
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