Murray denied by magical Federer
Andy Murray's bid to win Wimbledon was ended by Roger Federer who clinched a 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 victory to claim a record-equalling seventh men's singles title.
Murray was hoping to become Britain's first men's singles champion at SW19 since Fred Perry in 1936, but it ended in tears as Federer landed a 17th Grand Slam crown.
Murray was the first British player to reach this final since Bunny Austin in 1938, two years after Perry's last title, and he looked on course for a stunning victory when he won the opening set.
Murray was on top for much of the second set as well but Federer hit top form at the perfect moment to level the match and the Swiss was simply too good in the third and fourth.
It was a momentous win for Federer, who tied Pete Sampras with seven Wimbledon titles and extended his overall grand slam record to 17.
On Monday, he will return to the top of the rankings for the first time since May 2010, replacing Novak Djokovic, and will be only the second man, after Andre Agassi, to be ranked number one in his thirties.
Murray played at a completely different level to his previous three grand slam finals, two of which he also lost to Federer, but the result was the same, and he joins coach Ivan Lendl in having lost his first four slam finals.
The consolation for Murray is that Lendl went on to win eight.
The names in the Royal Box showed just what a momentous day this was for British sport.
Prime Minister David Cameron and the Duchess of Cambridge were in the front row, while David Beckham and wife Victoria had travelled over from the United States.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Mayor of London Boris Johnson were also in attendance and there was a huge roar as the players walked out onto court.
Murray led their head-to-head 8-7 going into the match but knew he had lost the two most important matches. The Scot had started nervously on both those occasions but on Sunday he was aggressive from the first point.
Instead it was Federer making the simple errors and it cost him as a forehand volley over the baseline handed Murray a break in the opening game.
Federer quickly settled and took his chance to level at 2-2, drawing a backhand error from Murray.
The Swiss forced two break points in the eighth game but Murray held firm, finding the corner with a pinpoint volley on the second, and he got his rewards in the next game.
The fourth seed played a shot straight out of the book of his coach Ivan Lendl when he drilled a shot right at Federer's head, and Murray broke to lead 5-4 when his opponent netted a forehand.
The crowd were on their feet, and the home hope served it out confidently.
But, as big as winning the first set was, there was still an awfully long way to go, and Federer came out firing at the start of the second with a hold to love.
The Swiss then engineered another break point on the Murray serve but, once again, the 25-year-old showed a cool head when it mattered most, forcing an error on the Federer backhand.
It was a big hold for Murray, and he continued to make life very difficult for Federer, creating break points in the fifth and ninth games but coming up just short.
The crowd sensed their man was close to taking a real stranglehold on the match, but Federer is not the most successful grand slam player for nothing and, with Murray serving at 6-5 behind, he forced a set point.
The Swiss usually lifts his game at such moments and he did so again, playing a perfect point, finishing it with a sublime drop volley.
It was a very painful set to lose for Murray so it seemed to the advantage of the Scot when the heavens opened at 1-1 in the third and the players were forced off for around 40 minutes while the roof was closed.
The general view before the match had been an indoor final would suit the Federer, taking the wind out of the equation and allowing him to take the ball even earlier.
He certainly looked fired up, and Murray was not helped by two heavy falls in the sixth game.
The second gave Federer a break point and, although Murray saved that one, the pressure was relentless and on his sixth chance of an epic game, the Swiss broke through.
Murray's second serve had been one of the keys to his run to the final but he was struggling to win points with it against Federer and needed to improve his first-serve percentage.
The Scot threw everything at his opponent when he served for the set but it was not enough and Federer held to go two sets to one in front.
Murray faced a massively uphill struggle, especially the way Federer was playing. The Swiss had only lost one grand slam final from two sets to one up, against Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open in 2009.
Murray almost made the perfect start to the third set when he had a chance to break in the second game but he missed an attempted pass by millimetres.
And his hopes took another huge blow when Federer broke again to lead 3-2, nailing an imperious backhand pass that left Murray rooted to the spot.
The crowd willed their man to a break when Federer served for the match, but it was not to be, the 30-year-old clinching victory on his second match point after three hours and 24 minutes when Murray hit a return just wide.
The Scot sat in his chair disconsolate as Federer savoured being back on top of the world, joining Rod Laver and Arthur Ashe in winning the Wimbledon title past his 30th birthday.
Final commentary --------------------------------------------------------------
Federer bts Murray 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
1830: And that wraps up our coverage for another year at Wimbledon. Unfortunately, it ended in tears for Murray, who disappears off Centre Court while Federer poses with the trophy. Murray will back next year and he'll also fancy his chances at the US Open later this summer as he continues to hunt that maiden Grand Slam. As he said himself, he's getting closer. Thanks for following our coverage over the last two weeks.
1827: Federer's now being interviewed and gives Murray some encouragement by telling the Briton that he'll win at least one Grand Slam. He matches Pete Sampras's record at Wimbledon and calls the American his "hero". He's also back to the top of the world rankings. Not a bad afternoon.
1825: Time for the trophy presentation as Murray is introduced first as runner-up, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, who he acknowledges with a wave. It was his best performance in a Grand Slam final, but Federer had too much for him, especially after the roof closed. "I'm getting closer" he tells Sue Barker as he struggles to hold back the tears while being interviewed on court. He takes the microphone, but he's really emotional and his voice breaks. He takes a minute, then hails Federer, thanks his corner and the fans. One day he'll get there.
1814: FEDERER WINS WIMBLEDON FOR SEVENTH TIME! Federer storms to a 40-15 lead. Murray saves one championship point, but then goes wide with a forehand. Fed collapses to his knees before being congratulated by Murray at the net. Heartbreak for Murray as he loses his fourth Grand Slam final. The wait for a British men's singles winner at Wimbledon will stretch to a 77th year. Federer joins Pete Sampras on a record seven Wimbledon titles, while also winning his 17th Grand Slam. It's his first since the 2010 Australian Open.
1810: Murray is pegged back to deuce with Federer two points away from lifting the trophy, but the Briton serves out to the delight of the home crowd who are chanting his name. They still believe, but Federer is now serving for a record-equaliing seventh Wimbledon title and 17th Grand Slam.
1804: Federer has half the court free but completely mishits a forehand at 30-15, before Murray goes wide with a return and is then caught out by a drop shot. Fed is one game away. Murray is serving to keep his Wimbledon dreams alive.
1800: Murray gives away a couple of freebies to let Federer back in the game at 30-30, but the Briton holds with a volley and second-serve ace which caught Fed off-guard.
1756: The crowd are doing their best to lift Murray's spirits. Federer double faults to gift Murray a 15-30 lead. He should then have two break points, but overhits a forehand with the point there to be won. Can't afford to miss those. Federer goes on to hold. He's two games away from a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title.
1752: Federer breaks! It looks like the beginning of the end for Murray. He drifts a groundstroke wide at 15-15 before putting too much on a backhand from the baseline. Two break points for Federer, but he only needs one as he plays an extraordinary backhand past a helpless Murray. I'm not sure if the Briton has anything left.
1748: Murray's body language is very negative as he gazes at the ground after Federer enjoys a love-service game. The momentum is definitely not with the Briton.
1745: Murray looks to be struggling physically more than Federer. The Scot is 15-30 down but some well-timed first serves swing the game back in his favour, before Fed shanks a forehand wide. Murray needs to find a second wind.
1741: Now then. Chance for Murray to break at the start of this set as he moves 30-40 clear after a booming forehand into the corner which Federer can't return. He needs to take anything he gets, but an attempted winner down the line lands just wide and Fed takes the next two points to hold. Drat.
1737: For the first time, Murray serves at the start of the set. He's quickly up 40-15 before Federer again trudges towards the net to volley home a winner. Murray fancies a bit of that himself, races to the net and gets the job done.
Third set --------------------------------------------------------------------------
1730: FEDERER TAKES THE THIRD SET! Murray twice comes from behind to level at 30-30, but he then drills a forehand wide from the baseline. Set point Federer and he polishes it off with an ace out wide. Cool as a cucumber. Fed is striking the ball so cleanly. It's been quite one-sided since the roof closed.
1726: Murray races into a 40-0 lead. Federer tries to stage a fightback, but a Murray ace ends his hopes as the Briton holds to 30. Federer, though, is now serving for the set. Murray must break here.
1722: Federer backs up his break with a hold to 30 and he's on the brink of winning this third set. He has not put a foot wrong since this final restarted under the roof. Murray is giving it all, but Fed looks unbeatable right now. Worrying signs.
1719: Murray broken after a 20-minute game! Super shot to start us off as Murray spanks a crosscourt backhand past Federer. He's cruising at 40-0, but Fed wins the next two points and then Murray suffers a nasty fall at the net as he loses his footing. That was a hard landing. He seems to be ok, and saves two break points with a couple of big first serves. A third break point falls Federer's way, but the Swiss can't take advantage of Murray's second serve. This is a real slog for Murray. Federer is dicating the rallies and should break when he gets two more chances, but both times the 30-year-old overhits his return on the second serve. Murray then fails to put away a volley and slips again while he watches a Federer lob land on the baseline. Sixth break point - and finally Federer seals it by dominating another baseline rally.
1658: The general feeling from the 'experts' is that playing the final indoors will benefit Federer, and he breezes through a love-service game.
1655: It's absolutely leathering it down. You can hear the rain crashing against the roof. Murray Mound is still chock-a-block, though. The break does Murray no harm as he holds to 15.
1652: So for the first time in Wimbledon history, the final will be played under the roof. It takes Federer just one point to wrap up his service game.
1645: The roof is now closed and the players are back out for a quick warm-up before this final resumes with Federer serving at 40-0 for a 2-1 lead in the third set.
1623: Forget that last update. They've now decided to shut the roof so the remainder of this final will be played indoor. It will probably resume at about 1700. I reckon Fed will be quite happy about that.
1616: They are going to leave the roof open as apparently it will only be raining for a short spell. That will probably suit Murray.
1613: Play suspended! Federer leads 40-0 on his serve, but the rain is now coming down hard. They fail to finish the game and the players head back to the locker room. It's good timing for Murray because Fed was starting to take control. The officials now need to make a decision; close the roof or hope it's just a passing shower?
1610: Nervy times for Murray as Federer opens up a 15-30 lead, but the Briton crunches a winner into the corner to level and then serves out. Very important hold. The brollies have gone up on Murray Mound. It's started to rain, but we're going to have another game on Centre Court...
1605: For the third successive set, Federer serves first, and he holds comfortably to 15. Murray can't afford to dwell on the end of that second set.
Second set -------------------------------------------------------------------
1602: FEDERER PINCHES THE SET! We look set for a tie-break as Murray takes a 30-0 lead. But then the wheels come off. Murray misses a makeable forehand down the line and Federer then earns his first set point when Murray's lob just misses the baseline. Massive point coming up. And after a nerve-shredding baseline rally, Fed presses forward and plays the most elegant of drop shots on his backhand to steal the set.
1556: A rare double fault at 30-15 from Fed. He makes amends with an ace, but Murray then gets a lucky net cord and raises his hand to apologise. He'll be beaming inside. Deuce and another sniff for the Briton, but Fed takes the next two points to put the pressure back on Murray as we edge closer to a tie-break. There is a very dark cloud looming over Centre Court. I'll be shocked if we get through this final without a rain delay.
1552: Really impressive love-service game by Murray. He had to win it to keep the set alive and he did so in emphatic fashion, finishing things off with a deft drop shot at the net.
1548: BIG hold for Federer. He's in deep trouble after slicing simple shots wide on both sides. You just don't see him miss those. Murray has a break point at 30-40. Huge moment in the match. Murray goes for a deep backhand - but it just misses the line. Murray then charges to the net and puts away a volley for another break point. But again he doesn't make it count as Fed volleys in a winner and then serves out. That's four break points Fed has saved in this set. Pressure now on the Murray serve.
1541: Another easy hold to 15 for Murray. The last few service games have flown by. Most of them went to deuce in the first set, but both players are now looking more solid on their serve.
1537: And now Federer dishes out the same treatment as he quickly holds. The Swiss is starting to travel towards the net a lot more than he usually does.
1535: Murray absolutely rips through Federer with some stunning serving as he holds to love. No stopping Murray when he fires them down like that. He looks the stronger player right now.
1532: Murray blows two break points! The Briton dispatches a volley to take a 15-40 lead. He has a superb chance to break but doesn't put enough on his lob and then sprays a return wide. Fed is having trouble finishing off these rallies but just about holds. Missed opportunity for Murray.
1527: Federer punishes a Murray second serve by making it 15-15, but when Murray starts banging down those first serves, Fed doesn't have much of a reply. Murray holds to 15 and that was probably his most comfortable service game of the final.
1522: No-nonense from Fed who coasts through another service game. He's stepped up a gear since losing the first set.
1520: Sloppy start to the set by Murray as he loses the first two points on his serve. Fed seems fired up. Murray pegs him back to 30-30 but then faces break point, which he saves when closing down the angle at the net and forcing Federer to go wide. Another three deuces on the Murray serve, but he holds it together.
1511: That's the response of a champion - a 16-time Grand Slam champion - as Federer enjoys the first love-service game of the final. I don't think Murray returned the ball once.
First set --------------------------------------------------------
1507: MURRAY WINS THE FIRST SET! The crowd are on their feet as Murray wins his first ever set in a Grand Slam final (he lost his previous three finals in straight sets). Fed gets a challenge overturned before squaring at 15-15, but Murray responds with a hat-trick of emphatic first serves. He's two sets away from making history. Come on, Andy!
1502: Murray breaks! Murray breaks! Fed attempts a drop shot at 15-15, but Murray is onto it like a flash and clubs a forehand towards his opponent's head. Fed ducks but the ball lands in. Fed smacks a stroke from the baseline long, giving Murray two break points at 15-40. But he only needs one as Fed finds the net mid-rally. Murray is now serving for the set.
1459: Murray survives - just. The fourth seed digs himself out of a hole with a couple of forehand winners after falling 0-30 down. Fed then mishits a second serve into the clouds, but Murray again has trouble wrapping up his service game. The Briton saves a break point after an outstretched Fed nets a backhand - and then another when the six-time champ goes long with a forehand. And after five deuces, Murray eventually holds. Phew. That was hard work. Murray has used up all three challenges already.
1445: Probably the easiest hold of the match as Federer concedes just one point on his way to taking a 4-3 lead. Muray started like a house on fire but Fed is now finding his rhythm.
1442: Again at 40-15, Murray should close out the game. But Fed sweeps a lovely backhand away from his rival and Murray then nets a forehand. Yet another deuce, but Murray gets a gift after Fed fails to return a second serve before the Scot serves out. Important hold for Murray after losing the last three games.
1437: Half-chance for Murray as he takes the first two points on Federer's serve when the Swiss misses another straightforward volley at the net. That shot's not served him well so far. Couple more deuces before Fed squeezes out the Briton. Enthralling action. Federer leads for the first time today.
1430: Fed breaks back! Murray trails 0-15 but three first-serve whoppers take him 40-15 in front as he records his first ace of the final. He should hold from here, but for the first time, Murray gets a bit twitchy and throws the next two points away. Two deuces and then Fed forces his first break point with a beautiful backhand winner into the corner.
1422: Another mistake from Federer, who has has clocked up a handful of unforced errors in the first three games. He's taken to deuce, but Murray smacks his next two strokes into the net. Fed is on the scoreboard but Murray has looked very sharp.
1417: Federer has a sniff at 15-30 but Murray slams the door shut with a forehand winner down the line. Fed then overhits a forehand and slaps another wide as Murray holds. Perfect start for the British No.1.
1413: What about this for a start - Murray breaks in the first game! Sloppy stuff from Federer who falls 30-40 behind after an unsuccessful challenge for a wide serve. The six-time champion should level at deuce but plants a routine volley at the net long.
1410: Federer will serve first with the roof open on Centre Court. The big guns have all jumped on the bandwagon for today. David and Victoria Beckham and David Cameron are among those in the Royal Box. Where were you all for the second round against Ivo Karlovic?
1400: This. Is. It. Murray is bouncing on the spot as he follows Federer onto Centre Court ahead of their heavyweight tussle. You can't see a blade of grass on Murray Mound. Can't be calling it anything other than that today.
1352: Yesterday, Britain's Jonny Marray and wildcard partner Frederik Nielsen won the men's doubles. The last British winners of that title were Patrick Hughes and Raymond Tuckey...in 1936 (the same year as Fred Perry if you're not joining the dots). Surely that's a good omen. So can Murray follow in Marray's footsteps? That's a bit of a tongue twister.
1345: Welcome to Orange's commentary on the biggest day of Andy Murray's career, and the biggest day in British tennis since 1936 when Fred Perry became the last Brit to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon. Murray has the chance to make history, but standing in his way is arguably the greatest player of all time, 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, who is looking to equal the record of Pete Sampras by winning a seventh Wimbledon title. It's been 74 years since a British male reached the final so enjoy the rollercoaster, because we might have to wait until 2086 for another day like this. And I'm not too confident of still being here by then.
Andy Murray has acknowledged he needs to produce the "perfect" performance to win the Wimbledon men's title.
The Scot gives short shrift to suggestions he will be facing Federer at anything other than the Swiss player's imperious best in Sunday's Wimbledon final, and believes he needs to be faultless. Federer, who is looking to equal Pete Sampras' record of seven Wimbledon titles, turns 31 next month and has not won a grand slam title since beating Murray to win the Australian Open two-and-a-half years ago. But, while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the major finals, Federer has not been far behind and, after beating Djokovic in the semi-finals, he can reclaim the world number one ranking with victory on Sunday.
Murray said: "Over the last couple of years his record in the slams has been unbelievable. The matches that he lost here, he was up two sets to love against (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga last year. "He's lost some close matches in the slams the last few years, but he had match points against Novak at the US Open two years in a row. "If you look at the way he played (against Djokovic), you can't say he's past it or because he's 30 he's playing worse tennis. I just think the players around him have got better."
Murray reached his first Wimbledon final and fourth grand slam decider with a 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-5 victory over Tsonga to break a 74-year British hoodoo in the men's singles. Eleven times a home player had reached the semi-finals since Bunny Austin made the final in 1938, including Murray the last three years, but all had fallen at the final hurdle. With that sequence ended, now Murray can become the first British men's singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936. The Scot has come through a tough draw to reach the final and, although virtually the whole country will be focused on Centre Court on Sunday, Murray's main motivation comes from within.
He said: "Almost every time you step on the court you're trying to prove something to yourself. I think that's what motivates you to get better. Also the players that are around me, as well. "I think you can't stay at the top of any sport, especially one as competitive as tennis, if you don't have very good self motivation. I think that's very important."
It will be the third time Murray and Federer have met in the finals of grand slams, with the Swiss triumphing at the US Open in 2008 and in Melbourne in 2010, both times in straight sets. Murray tries not to look back, and he said: "My coaches will watch his matches this week and some stuff from when I have played him before. I try not to watch before I play against him. I've seen some of his matches this week.
"I've learned from those matches that I lost against him in the past. But if you go too much into detail of things that happened in the past, it's not always beneficial, because in tennis every day is different. "So I just need to try to make sure I play a perfect match on Sunday."
Murray has also taken encouragement from some of Federer's recent grand slam losses, including the quarter-final defeat by Tsonga here last year. That was the first time Federer had ever lost from two sets ahead at a grand slam, and he then did the same at the US Open against Djokovic in the semi-finals, letting two match points slip away. Murray said: "Roger has lost a couple matches from a couple of sets up in the last few years. So, whereas in the past you might have thought going two sets down it was impossible, there's still time to come back. "But ideally you want to try to get off to a good start. That would make a big difference, I'm sure."
Murray has spent 16 hours and 45 minutes on court in reaching the final, four hours and 36 minutes more than Federer, and Tsonga feels that may impact on the Scot's chances. The Frenchman said: "It's going to be tough for Andy because he need to recover from the quarter-final (against David Ferrer) and this match against me. "He looked pretty tired at the end, so I don't know how he will be physically. But I hope for him he will recover and have a chance against Roger."
Murray is one of the hardest workers in the game, though, and he insists tiredness will not be a problem. The world number four said: "I felt fine (against Tsonga). I felt less tired than I did in the match with Ferrer because there weren't as many long rallies. "It wasn't that tough physically. It was more mental. That was the hard part."