Andy Murray is used to being the last man standing at Wimbledon, being the sole home hope as the tournament progresses, and he is an old hand at being the centre of attention at the All England Club. But never before has he experienced anything like this.
The Scot moved swiftly and efficiently into the second round on Day Two, disposing of Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3 in just 89 minutes but the roar of support he got when he first broke serve and then when he won the final point was something else again. Part of the patriotic fervour is down to the Olympic effect – every athlete in Team GB colours is being cheered to the rafters in every sport at every arena – but much of it is down to Murray’s efforts at Wimbledon three weeks ago.
When he reached the final here at the start of the month, everyone sat up and took notice. Britain had its first finalist since 1938 and as he took the first set from Roger Federer, it became apparent that he really was a champion in waiting. Federer made that very clear in his speech at the trophy presentation.
But when Murray had to choke back the tears as he tried to thank everyone for their support and help, there was not a dry eye in the house. At last, the public had a chance to see the real Andy Murray, the driven young man who cares deeply about his sport and who is desperate to win one of the major prizes to repay the faith his friends and family have shown in him over a lifetime. And the public obviously liked what they saw.
“After the final, it was different to what I'd experienced before,” he said. “The support from friends, family, just people I bump into in the street, from politicians, celebrities. It was overwhelming. I'm not used to that.
“I understand that sometimes in the past, it wasn't always that easy to get behind me because on the court I didn't look particularly happy. But I think during Wimbledon, I think the build-up to the tournament, I just felt different on the court. I felt like I'd grown up a bit. I felt more mature. I felt like my demeanour was better.
“The support I got after the final made a huge difference to me, to my confidence, made a difference to my practice after that loss because I wanted to get back on the practice court straightaway, back in the gym, get myself ready for this tournament because I want to do my best. I want to achieve everything that I can. The only way of doing that is by giving a hundred per cent. The support I got after the final has made a big difference to that.”
Certainly there was no sign of any hangover from that loss in the final. Murray has been raring to go for the past week and from the moment he stepped out onto the doubles court with his brother on Saturday, is was plain that he was pumped up and willing to do anything to win. But even if he and Jamie lost that match, Murray was not going to be deflected from his positive outlook: he is the fourth best player on the planet, he is the third seed here and he wants a medal. Wawrinka was not going to be allowed to stop him.
“I was saying on Tuesday, when it was getting closer, I was saying to the guys, I was so pumped to play, I want the tournament to start tomorrow,” Murray said. “There was a bit of me that was a little bit anxious, that maybe I possibly peaked a bit too soon because I played really well in practice.
“I practiced with Stan a few times last week and played really well against him. That gave me a bit of extra confidence going into the match today. But I'm really up for the tournament. I wanted to play well. I want to be involved in this event for as long as possible. I'm going to give it my best shot.”
So, with the crowd cheering his every move, Murray will take on either Somdev Devvarman or Jarkko Nieminen next. The two were locked in battle when the rain started and long after Murray had headed for home and quiet night in front of the TV watching the other Olympic sports, they had a long evening ahead of them waiting to settle their differences.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all