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The Draw: 30 June

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Tuesday, 4 October 2016 17:03 PM BST
A Point in Time: The forehand that rescued Murray looks back at some of the most significant shots in the history of The Championships. READ MORE

When you've been waiting 77 years for a British man to win Wimbledon, what's another 12 minutes? Well, with all the chaos and crisis inside Andy Murray's head as he served for the 2013 Championships at two sets and 5-4 up, those weren't ordinary minutes, but the 12 longest, most excruciating minutes of his life. 

Time slowed down to a crawl, unlike Murray's heart-rate or Novak Djokovic's feet. 

Between points, Murray looked down at his left hand and saw it was "shaking violently". That was a first. Such was the angst, the stress and panic he was experiencing on Centre Court (brilliantly described by one observer that summer as "a nice place where horrible things happen") that he wouldn't later remember that 12-minute service game. Murray was struggling to get air into his legs; he couldn't think straight. Now, those were hardly the circumstances in which you would want to play the most important forehand of your career. 

But perhaps it's just as well Murray doesn't have full recall of the shot, which he hit from just behind the service-line after Djokovic had played the ball low and short. What to do? By that stage of the rally, the pair had already played more than 20 strokes, in an exchange of quite brutal intensity and quality when you consider what was on the line - history or possible oblivion. 

Any error would be potentially catastrophic for Murray as Djokovic had a breakpoint for parity - 5-all - in the third set. And it wouldn't be going too far to think that whoever won that point would end up winning that summer's Wimbledon.

That might seem like an odd thing to say, given that Murray was leading by two sets to love, but consider how the Briton hadn't closed out the game from 40-love. How could Murray hope to deal with the disappointment of failing to convert those three Championship points? 

You often hear old pros saying that some points are bigger than others, and that's never been truer than in that moment. In all the years he has swung a racket, Murray has never played a point of this magnitude and monstrosity. A minute or two earlier, Murray had staved off one breakpoint by landing a serve down the middle, with Djokovic unable to return the ball into play. But that had been a "free point" and this one, which started off a second serve, most definitely wasn't of the cheap variety. 

To understand what he had been through on that rectangle of lawn, Murray would later have to watch and re-watch the video of that match. In the tape of that point, he saw how he "had floated in a second serve, which Novak attacked on the backhand". 

Pretty much all tournament, some commentators had been speaking of 'Wimble-geddon', after Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer lost uncommonly early in the fortnight, but there could be nothing more apocalyptic than Murray losing this match - his fate would possibly be decided by that forehand. "If this goes the other way. what's going to happen?" a voice in Murray's head had been asking. 

Even Ivan Lendl, supposedly the 'Blank Czech' in Murray's corner, was getting agitated. The heat inside Centre Court made the stadium close and claustrophobic, only adding to the sense of disorder and potential disaster. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, was in shirtsleeves in the Royal Box. Even Tim Henman had shed his jacket. Never before had Centre Court been so overwrought and overheated, experiencing simultaneous cold sweats and hot sweats. 

"This turned into another incredibly tough rally, more than 20 strokes. I thought Novak may have stopped at one stage, when I hit a backhand that was very close to going out," Murray wrote in his autobiography. "He nudged the ball back and I tried to get up to it and give it enough spin to bring it down back in time, because when the ball stays that low it needs a certain amount of height to get it over the net. Bringing it down within the court is tough, especially at the end of a rally of that intensity." 

Fortunately for Murray, and for most of the 15,000 spectators inside Centre Court, or for those perched on Henman Hill or watching from the edge of their sofas at home, he made that forehand. Even better than that, he had hit the ball for a winner - deuce. 

That wasn't the end of the danger for Murray, as he would save another breakpoint with a volley winner. But, of Djokovic's three breakpoints in that game, the one that ended with Murray's forehand was the one which could most easily have gone the other way. So Murray would take his fourth Championship point, after Djokovic fired a backhand into the net.

"What would have happened if Murray had been broken in that game? He was facing a very strong Djokovic at that moment," Boris Becker told me, speaking before he was appointed Djokovic's coach. "So how would this have ended? That's a question we probably don't want to think about." 

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