The strain had maybe told on Djokovic at times in the earlier rounds – he was tetchy and grumpy without actually having ever really been pushed except in the rain sodden mess that was the fourth round. There he lost the first set to Roberto Bautista Agut, and so it started here.
It was vital that Murray came out swinging in the first set. After being broke to love in the opening game, Murray’s response could not have been better. He broke straight back and then dug the studs in with a second consecutive break.
Murray’s serving was firing well, and he knew that the first set had to be his key of pushing Djokovic back, battling through three set points to take the lead.
It has been a tough competition for the Brit – within two points of going out in the first round and taken to five sets in his opening two rounds, Murray’s level dipped but Djokovic seemed to settle into a rhythm, taking the ball a lot earlier in the first set, with pinpoint accuracy to boot.
A double-break cushion helped him on the way to level the match, but the anticipated rally back by Murray was slow to come, as once more, Djokovic struck early at the start of the third set, breaking Murray twice in a row.
That is not to say that the Brit did not have his chances, bringing up four break points to vitally try and get one of the breaks back, but when he could not get the breakthrough, it was a disconsolate trudge back to the chairs by Murray.
The fourth set could not have started any worse for the Brit, broken again at the start as it looked like one way traffic. It was not even that his shot selection was poor, it was just Djokovic’s trademark elasticity had him reaching would-be winners where against any other player, they would have been well beaten.
Breaking Murray again for a 5-2 lead, Djokovic afforded himself a wry smile, but perhaps a touch too soon, as Murray picked off the first attempt to serve for the title, before holding to make Djokovic work for it again.
Even then, he had to work for it as Murray saved two Championship points before a netted backhand finally gave Djokovic the win he hungered for, while Murray has now finished the runner-up at all of the Slams, as his search for a third Slam title awaits.
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