- 07 Jul 2020
What happened exactly on that day
On this day, the 7th of July 2013, Andy Murray edged Novak Djokovic, 6-4 7-5 6-4, to become the first male British player to conquer the Wimbledon crown in 77 years, since Fred Perry’s triumph in 1936. This was the outcome a lifetime quest for Murray, who had been previously stopped three times in the semi-final (by Andy Roddick in 2009, then by Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011) and once in the final round, in 2012, by Roger Federer. It was his second Grand Slam title, as he had already beaten Djokovic in the 2012 US Open final, after having lost his four first major finals.
Andy Murray, from Scotland, was born in 1987. He obtained his first remarkable results in 2005, reaching his first final in Bangkok as world no.109. (lost to Roger Federer, 6-3 7-5). In 2006, he claimed his first title on the tour in San Jose, edging Lleyton Hewitt in the final (1-6 6-2 7-6), but his breakthrough year was 2008. That year, not only did “Muzz” claim five titles, including two Masters 1000 in Cincinnati and Madrid : he also reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon (defeated by Rafael Nadal, 6-3 6-2 6-4), and above all, he finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the US Open (6-2 7-5 6-2). He finished the season as world no.4, a spot he was going to occupy in the next four years, being a part of the “Big 4” dominating the game at the time. In this period, in Grand Slam tournaments, he reached 6 times the semi-finals and 5 times the final round without ever triumphing. Andy Murray then hired Ivan Lendl as a coach, because they had a similar story : Lendl too had lost several major finals before eventually claiming his first title at the 1984 French Open. The magic worked : in 2012, after a painful loss against Roger Federer in the final of Wimbledon, Muzz brilliantly took his revenge against the Swiss, destroying him in the Olympic Games final (6-2 6-1 6-4) to obtain a gold medal. Less than two months later, he edged Novak Djokovic in a dramatic US Open final during which victory almost escaped him (7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2), becoming the first British player to claim a major title since Fred Perry won Wimbledon in 1936. Now, all he missed to be make his dream come true and satisfy an entire country was to triumph at the All England Club.
Novak Djokovic was born the same year 1987. He entered the top 100 in 2005, finishing the year as world no.83. In 2006, he made himself famous by reaching the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros while ranked only no.63, after he beat world no.9 Fernando Gonzalez in the second round. Later that year, Nole claimed his first title on the tour, beating Nicolas Massu (7-5 6-3) in the final in Amersfoort. His breakthrough year was 2007, when he reached the semi-finals at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon (stopped each time by Rafael Nadal) before making his way to the US Open final where he was defeated by Roger Federer (7-6 7-6 6-4). At the start of 2008, he triumphed for the first time in a major tournament, edging Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Australian Open (4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6). Djokovic then remained world no.3 in the next three years, often reaching the last rounds of major events where Federer and Nadal kept preventing from adding more major crowns to his list of achievements. Things changed in 2011, when Djokovic played a close to perfect first half of the season. Trumphing at the Australian Open at Andy Murray’s expense, he remained undefeated for 42 matches, until Roger Federer edged him in the semi-finals of Roland-Garros. Since then, the Serbian had accumulated four new Grand Slam crowns (Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011, the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013). He was still world no.1 in July 2013.
Wimbledon is the oldest and the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Held by the All England Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club since 1877, it moved into its current location in 1922, the same year when the Center Court was built. Considered by many as the most intimidating court in the world, with its famous Rudyard Kipling quote above the entrance (“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same”), the Center Court had seen the best players of all time competing for the title. After the US Open switched to clay and then hard court in the 1970’s, and after the Australian Open switched to hard court in 1988, Wimbledon remained the only Grand Slam tournament to be played on grass, a surface that is usually more suitable for serve and volley players. Not only did Wimbledon keep its surface, but it also maintained old-fashioned traditions such as the white dress code.
The 2013 Wimbledon Championships started with two major surprises : first, Rafael Nadal had lost in the first round against world no.135 Steve Darcis; then, in the second round, seven-time champion Roger Federer was sent home by Sergiy Stakhovsky, no.116. Meanwhile, the two top-ranked players in the world, had made their way easily until the last rounds. In the quarterfinals, Andy Murray had to battle five sets to overcome Fernando Verdasco (4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 7-5), before Novak Djokovic was threatened in the semi-finals by Juan Martin del Potro, escaping only in five sets as well (7-5 4-6 7-6 6-7 6-4).
This Wimbledon final was the 19th encounter between the two men. So far, Djokovic leed 11-8. Although Murray had dominated the Serbian to claim his first major title at the 2013 US Open, Djokovic had beaten him three times since then, the last time in the final round of the Australian Open (6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2).
There was a lot at stake for Andy Murray. In New-York, he had already brushed off his reputation of a loser, but he was expected to triumph one day at Wimbledon. 77 years of pressure were on his shoulder : he had to become the first Brit to lift the trophy since Fred Perry. After three semi-final losses, he thought his hour had come in 2012, when he finally reached the final, only to have his dream ruined by Roger Federer. The Scot had not been able to withhold his tears at the trophy ceremony. Losing another final here would devastate him.
In a 40° heat, . the three first games lasted no less than 20 minutes. Muzz was the first to obtain break points, in the very first game. It would take him seven break points before the Serbian gave up his serve. After all these efforts, Murray saw Djokovic breaking back in the next game, but Nole, who committed an unusual number of 17 unforced errors throughout the set, lost his serve again at 3-3. After an hour of play, the Scot took the first set, 6-4.
In the second set, Novak Djokovic increased his level to fight back and took the lead, 4-1. Murray managed to even the score, and eventually, he broke Djokovic’s serve at 5-5. Winning his serve to love in the next game, Andy Murray was now two sets ahead, 6-4 7-5.
At the start of the third set, Murray took his opponent’s serve and seemed to be cruising for a three-set win. Novak Djokovic didn’t intend to let him triumph so easily, and, starting a dropshot campaign, he got ahead, 4-2. It was enough to discourage the Scot, who came back and was now up 5-4, serving for the title. It took twelve minutes and four match points, but Novak eventually missed the forehand that made Andy Murray the new Wimbledon champion. 77 years after fred Perry , a British player had eventually won the Championships in front of his own crowd.
“It feels slightly different to last year,” joked Murray on court. “Last year was one of the toughest moments of my career. It was a tough match and an unbelievably long final game. I don’t know how I managed to come through. I’m just so glad.
Andy Murray would finish 2013 as world no.4 and would have to undergo back surgery at the end of the year. He would struggle to get back to his best level in 2014, but in 2015, he would become world no.2 again. After losing three Grand Slam finals to Novak Djokovic, two in Melbourne (2015, 2016) and one Paris (2016), he would claim a second title at Wimbledon in 2016, edging Milos Raonic (6-4 7-6 7-6). He would then start a marathon to become world no.1 in November and finish the season on top of the world. He would remain no.1 for 41 weeks, until August 2017. His career would then be disturbed by a hip injury, requiring several surgical operations, and, following Wimbledon 2017, he would only be able attend two more Grand Slam events.
In 2013, Novak Djokovic would lose the world no.1 spot to Rafael Nadal. Between Wimbledon 2015 and Roland-Garros 2016, Nole would achieve the feat of winning the four Grand Slam tournaments in a row. He would struggle in the two following years, but he would become world no.1 again in 2018, and he would claim five more Grand Slam crowns. In 2020, he would hold 17 Grand Slam crowns, and he would have occupied the no.1 spot for 282 weeks in total.
- Read more: July 6, 2008: The day Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer to win Wimbledon
- Read more: July 5, 1980: The day Borg and McEnroe played an unforgettable Wimbledon final
- Read more: July 4, 1999: The day Pete Sampras put on a Wimbledon masterclass
- Read more: July 3, 2004: The day Sharapova stunned Serena in the Wimbledon final