Murray’s triumph consigned a miserable run of 11 semi-final failures by British men to the history books and emulated the achievement of Bunny Austin, the last home challenger to reach the Wimbledon men’s final back in 1938. The 25-year-old had lost at the semi-final stage for the last three years, joining Tim Henman, Roger Taylor and Mike Sangster on the list of British near-misses at the All England Club.
But decades of anguish faded from view in front of a jubilant Centre Court crowd as Murray booked a showdown with six-time champion Roger Federer in Sunday’s final. While Murray’s victory has put one ghost to rest, the Scot won’t be truly satisfied until he has become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Murray’s meeting with Federer will be the Scot’s fourth attempt to win a Grand Slam final following defeats at the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011 and the 2008 US Open.
Victory on Sunday will take Federer level with Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon wins, allow him to reclaim the world number one ranking and clinch a 17th career Grand Slam crown. Djokovic, who was bidding to reach a fifth successive Grand Slam final, had defeated Federer six times in their last seven meetings.
But Federer, playing in a record 32nd major semi-final, was not to be denied as he buried the heartache of having been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last two years. He also took his record of semi-final victories to eight out of eight at the All England Club. “I’m ecstatic. I played a great match today. Novak played great in the first two sets too, but the third set was key,” said Federer.
“I stepped it up then. He had a break points in the ninth game of the third set. It was a tough match.” Federer said he was delighted to be back in the final, having lost in the quarter-finals to Tomas Berdych in 2010 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year. “It was a shock for some people when I lost to Berdych, but not for me. They said ‘How are we going to survive a Wimbledon final without you?’. I just went on vacation and prepared for my next tournaments.”
Djokovic, 25, admitted he had been outplayed in the key moments. “I felt my energy levels drop at the start of the fourth set. I played a couple of sloppy games and had a low percentage of first serves,” said the Serb. “It’s difficult to get rhythm and control of the match in those circumstances. He was the better player in the important moments. I expected him to be at his top level; I expected myself to be at that level too, but I wasn’t.”
With Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar and pop singer Kylie Minogue watching from the Royal Box, Federer provided the early entertainment by easing to the first set in just 24 minutes. The Swiss earned the break point he needed in the sixth game when Djokovic, who fell on the surface made slippery by the closed roof above, could only net a running backhand.