Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic to become the man to bring the Wimbledon singles crown back to Britain after a gap of 77 years.
Murray won in three sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 against a Djokovic who struggled to be on top of his game.
The first game of the match, in which Djokovic went down 0-40 before managing to reel off the next five points, were a presage of the difficulties that the Serb would have with his serve.
This is something no one could have predicted. The serve that stood solidly by him all fortnight was a major reason for his not having dropped a set before reaching the semifinals.
Moreover, this is an improved weapon, honed with small but significant changes in technique — for instance, a higher elbow on the toss and a greater knee bend — that have contributed to greater power and accuracy.
But on Sunday, Djokovic’s serve cracked, the first time to give Murray a 2-1 lead in the first set. An immediate break back by the Serb only found him dropping his serve once again to give Murray a 4-3 advantage.
It was a lead he hung on to, ending the game emphatically, with three great serves, one of them an ace.
The first set, which lasted an engrossing 59 minutes, seemed a closely fought one on the face of it. But the statistics showed that the Scotsman was ahead on almost every count, making more aces and winners.
It was the head-to-head comparison on serve that told the story — Djokovic was winning a mere 54 per cent of the points on his first serve against Murray’s 84 per cent. As for unforced errors, Djokovic had committed 17 against Murray’s six.
It was Djokovic who drew first blood in the second set by breaking Murray to go up 3-1 and then hold his serve. But the match changed course from there, with Murray working himself back into the game to level 4-4 and then breaking a seemingly edgy Djokovic to go up 6-5.
Losing his cool
Having exhausted his challenges, Djokovic lost his cool and screamed at the umpire after a ball that Murray hit was called in. It was the Serb — who thought it was out — who was wrong and Hawk-Eye showed the ball had clipped the baseline.
With the break in the bag, Murray sealed the set with an emphatic game, going up 40-0 and then serving it out with a deafening ace. The beginning of the third set suggested that Murray was almost home and dry when he went up 2-0.
But Djokovic, who was 0-30 down on his serve, suddenly seemed to gather himself. Holding his serve, he broke Murray to go up 4-2, playing as confidently as he has done for most of the last fortnight.
But another wild swing in momentum changed the course of the match with Murray breaking and surging ahead. The Briton, thanks to a mix of great serving, and Djokovic’s relapse into making uncharacteristic mistakes, was poised to serve for the match.
Up 40-0, the match seemed well but over, but in an exciting twist, Djokovic came back from the dead, saving three straight championship points. However, Murray hung in to finish the game even as it threatened to slip away from him.