So the 2013 Championships have the Gentlemen's Singles final that everyone wanted. The world's two leading players will meet on Sunday after Andy Murray overcame the 6ft 8in Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours 52 minutes, a time which did not include the pause for the Centre Court roof to be closed with the Scot leading by two sets to one as the light began to fade.
Janowicz had repeatedly asked the umpire, Jake Garner, when the roof would be brought into use and at 8.40pm tournament referee Andrew Jarrett, came on court, spoke to Garner, and then astonished Murray by ordering the closing of the roof. In vain Murray argued there remained sufficient light for him to finish the match off, since he was on a hugely impressive roll at the time, with Janowicz looking demoralised. In the end, it did not matter. Murray ended up by playing brilliantly to reach his second successive Wimbledon final and extending his grass court winning streak to 17. How he would relish extending that to 18 on Sunday.
Murray had been well warned about his opponent's thunderball serve and howitzer forehand, but perhaps not about the stream of drop shots Janowicz would employ with Murray stationed well behind the baseline. It took Murray a while to adjust his court movement to cover against this unexpected threat.
Though Janowicz was powering down serves between 135 and 143 miles an hour he was also clocking up more double faults than aces, and it was one of these which offered Murray a break point in the fourth game, only for the No.2 seed to mishit a forehand return of a booming second serve.
Hitting more aces than the Pole, Murray moved into a 5-4 lead and held two set points on the Janowicz serve but allowed both to escape him and when the set moved into a tie-break it was the young giant who dominated it. Murray collected just two points before a weak double-fault handed the opening set to the Pole after 49 minutes.
Having performed disappointingly in the first set, Murray did better in the second by breaking in the opening game, courtesy of a pair of Polish double faults, and he passed up a golden opportunity to take a 4-1 lead by allowing the Pole to escape two break points. At 3-2 Murray had to fend off a Polish break point, and then at 4-3 there were three more chances for the tall Pole to break. Again Murray survived - just - before going on to hold serve and level the match after one hour and 33 minutes.
As the light on Centre Court began to fade and Janowicz repeatedly wanted to know when the roof might be closed it was Murray, to the dismay of the crowd, who struggled to hold his comparatively inexperienced opponent at bay early in the third set and he found himself 4-1 down before, pumping his arms to seek the spectators' support, the Scot launched a thrilling counter-attack which provided the fans with just what they had been wanting to cheer for.
At last playing the sort of tennis expected of someone who had reached the final of the last three Grand Slams he played, Murray swept five straight games and a clearly distraught Janowicz was booed for slamming his racket onto the net tape as a set which he had seemed to dominate was snatched from him.
It was at this point that Jarrett came on court, spoke to the umpire and then informed an astonished Murray the match would be suspended while the roof was closed. Diplomatically, Janowicz, who - as Murray pointed out - had repeatedly asked for the roof cover, was away on a toilet break. As Murray told the tournament referee, "There is at least 45 minutes of tennis left" , the clear inference being that, with the Pole in disarray and Murray rampant, only one more set would have been needed.
Twenty minutes later the players were out again, warming up for what was now, in effect, an indoor match.But if the delay had upset Murray's rhythm it certainly didn't show. He broke the Pole in the third game, held his own serve with increasing assurance and at the end it was Janowicz who handed the match over with another pair of double-faults in the ninth - and final - game of the fourth set.
On the question of the roof closure, Murray said, "I just feel Wimbledon is an outdoor event and you should play it outdoors until it is not possible. Anybody wold be angry when you have the momentum with you and it is still light. But once I got back on the court I wasn't angry and it worked out OK for me in the end."
As for his chances on Sunday, he said, "I learned a lot from last year's Wimbledon, and though I lost I didn't have any regrets as such. I will probably be in a better place mentally because I have been there before and I have won a Grand Slam. I would hope I would be a bit calmer but I might wake up on Sunday and be more nervous than ever before. But I wouldn't expect to be."
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all