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July 8, 2013

Thanks to Murray, Britain's Wimbledon wait is over

(Continued)

LONDON — The fans were active participants throughout, lamenting "awwww" when Murray missed a serve; cheering rowdily when he hit one of his 36 winners, five more than Djokovic; shushing in unison when someone called out in premature agony or delight while a point was in progress.

That was understandable. Points rarely are over when they appear to be if Murray and Djokovic are involved. The elastic Djokovic's sliding carries him to so many shots, while Murray is more of a powerful scrambler. It took a half-hour to get through the opening five games, in part because 10 of 32 points lasted at least 10 strokes apiece. And this all happened with the temperature above 80 degrees, only the occasional puff of cloud interrupting the blue sky.

Born a week apart in May 1987, the No. 1-ranked Djokovic and No. 2 Murray have known each other since they were 11, and they grasp the ins and outs of each other's games so well.

This was their 19th meeting on tour (Djokovic leads 11-8), and their fourth in a Grand Slam final, including three in the past year. Both are fantastic returners, and Murray broke seven times Sunday, once more than Djokovic lost his serve in the preceding six matches combined.

Down the stretch — at least until the ultimate, difficult moments — Murray was superior, taking the last four games. He broke for a 5-4 lead when Djokovic flubbed a forehand. When Murray got out of his changeover chair, preparing to serve for the title, the sound from the stands was immense.

Djokovic missed a backhand, Murray smacked a backhand winner and added a 131 mph service winner, and suddenly one point was all that remained between him and history. That's where things got a tad complicated.

On match point No. 1, Djokovic capped a 12-stroke exchange with a forehand volley winner. On No. 2, Djokovic hit a backhand return winner off an 84 mph second serve. On No. 3, Murray sailed a backhand long on the ninth shot.

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