LONDON, England, July 7- Andy Murray ended Britain’s agonising 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men’s singles champion on Sunday when he destroyed world number one Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the blistering heat of the All England Club.
The 26-year-old became the country’s first male winner since Fred Perry in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War started, Jesse Owens defied Hitler at the Berlin Olympics and Gone With The Wind was published.
It was Murray’s second Grand Slam title to follow his breakthrough triumph at the US Open in 2012 which followed his Olympic gold medal as well as a heartbreaking, tearful loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
However, Sunday’s title showdown, between two men who have now contested three of the last four Grand Slam finals, rarely lived up to expectations.
Both struggled in the stifling 40-degree heat and the top-seeded Serb, who had beaten Murray in the Australian Open final in January, looked jaded after his record four hour 43-minute semi-final victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
And despite leads of 4-1 in the second set and 4-2 in the third, he was out-hit by Murray who finished with 36 winners to 31, with 21 unforced errors to the Serb’s 40 and having carved out 17 break points.
“I have played Novak many times and when everyone finishes playing, he will go down as one of the fighters,” said Murray.
“He did the same today and that is what made it tough. I understand how much everyone wanted to see British winner at Wimbledon and I hope everyone enjoyed it.
“My team have stuck by me through some tough moments. This one is for Ivan (Lendl, his coach) as well, I know he did everything to try to win this one when he was playing. He’s fantastic, he’s been patient and I thank him.”
Djokovic, who lost in straight sets at a Grand Slam for the first time since the semi-finals at Wimbledon three years ago, praised Murray.
“It wasn’t easy. Andy deserves the win, he played incredible tennis. Congratulations to him and his whole team and the country, I know what it means to you all,” said the Serb.
“It makes the success even bigger as I am aware of the pressure he gets. There are always lots of expectations on him to win this tournament. It’s a great achievement.”
Inside a baking Centre Court, and watched by Victoria Beckham, Wayne Rooney as well as Hollywood stars Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper, the first point of the match was a punishing 20 strokes.
Murray, who has played in the final of his last four majors, had break points in the first and third games, with the Scot finally pouncing on his seventh for a 2-1 lead.
Djokovic levelled at 2-2 but Murray was the more aggressive, positive man and broke to love for a 4-3 edge firing almost four times as many winners than the top-seeded Serb.
Murray saved three break points for a 5-3 lead but Djokovic was furious that umpire Mohamed Lahyani had called a ball out at 30-40 while allowing play to continue with the Scot going to deuce.
The British second seed took the opener 6-4 after 59 minutes with a love service game, having hit 17 winners to six and with only six unforced errors to the world number one’s 17.
Murray wasn’t getting complacent — he had won the the first set of the pair’s last three meetings and still lost the match.
Djokovic was obviously aware of the history, speeding into a 4-1 lead with two more marathon rallies of 30 and 32 shots.
But Murray roared back to 4-4 in a final which, despite its punishing hitting, still felt flat.
Djokovic, however, was becoming increasingly frustrated and in his fog of anxiety, Murray mugged him for a break to lead 6-5 and went two sets to the good at 7-5.
Murray had only lost once when two sets up and that was in the Wimbledon third round in 2005 against David Nalbandian, his debut year when he was a rookie 18-year-old.
A break in the second game of the third set gave Murray a 2-0 lead before Djokovic suddenly raced away with the next four games for a 4-2 lead.
But terrier Murray reclaimed the break in the seventh game and levelled in the eighth with a running, curled forehand off a Djokovic drop.
It was almost over.
Djokovic, in his 11th Grand Slam final and chasing a seventh major, was broken for 4-5 before the British star, with the crowd on their feet, wasted three match points.
He finally achieved his place in history when Djokovic netted a backhand after three hours and nine minutes of action.