BRITAIN’s Andy Murray clinched a second Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam crown on Sunday when he downed misfiring Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/2).
The 29-year-old world No2 added the 2016 trophy to his 2013 triumph at the All England Club and his 2012 US Open breakthrough. Appearing in his 11th final at the Majors, but his first against an opponent other than Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, the Scot put on a Centre Court masterclass. Murray buried his head in his towel and wept in the moments after victory.
“It’s the most important tournament for me every year. I’ve had some great moments and tough losses. I played some really good stuff today,” Murray said.
“The wins feel extra special because of the tough losses. I’m proud to have my hands on the trophy again.”
Murray faced just two break points in the two-hour, 48-minute encounter, while 25-year-old Canadian Raonic, who had clobbered 137 aces going into the final, managed just eight on Sunday.
“It’s a difficult challenge. Andy has been playing great and he deserved to win, congratulations to him,” Raonic said. “This one is going to sting. I’m going to make sure I do everything I can to be back here for another chance.”
Victory for Murray helped make up for the disappointment of losing the Australian and French Open finals to Djokovic this year. It also illustrated the master-stroke he pulled off in tempting Ivan Lendl back into his coaching corner.
Raonic was attempting to become the first Canadian to win a Slam title, but was thwarted by Murray’s tough-as-teak defence and inspired return game.
His 29 unforced errors compared to Murray’s miserly 12 proved fatal in a match in which serve was broken just once.
Victory preserved the iron grip on the Majors of the sport’s “Big Four” with Lleyton Hewitt the last man besides Murray, Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal to win Wimbledon back in 2002.
Murray had won all four of the pair’s meetings in 2016 including the Australian Open semifinals and in the final at Queen’s Club.
The second seed was unable to convert his first break point in the seventh game, but deservedly edged ahead at 4-3.
In a rush of blood to the head, Raonic came to the net off a weak approach and Murray gleefully fired back the ball to induce the crucial error. It was only the sixth time the 25-year-old Canadian, who had stunned Federer in a five-set semifinal, had dropped serve in the tournament.
Murray backed up the break for 5-3 before Raonic took the ninth game in which he fired his first ace of the final. He had gone into the match having hit 137 aces in the previous six rounds. A straightforward volley allowed Murray to claim the opener 6-4 with Raonic having hit just nine winners.
Raonic remained under siege, saving another break point in the first game of the second set, one more in the seventh and two more in the ninth as he clung on although his escape was aided by two backhand errors by Murray.
Raonic unleashed a serve of 235km/h in that game but his opponent still won the point — a dispiriting snapshot of his afternoon.
Murray remained in cruise control, breezing through the tie-break for a two-sets lead. He still had not faced a break point in the final. Raonic did carve out his first break points in the fifth game of the third set, but Murray saved both.
Another tiebreak was required and again Murray dominated, stretching out to five match points. Raonic saved one, but Murray’s victory was assured when the Canadian netted a return.