Murray gives Britain something to cheer about

Andy Murray beat first-time finalist Milos Raonic in straight sets to win tennis' most coveted trophy for the second time in his career.

Andy Murray showcased his brilliant defensive play to overcome Milos Raonic and kiss the Wimbledon trophy for the second time.   -  Reuters

The nation’s politics is in an unholy mess. Nobody is sure what the nature of the country’s future relationship with the European Union is going to be.

One leading Conservative Member of Parliament has almost berated her rival for not having children, infuriating civilised sections of the society.

Their currency, the pound, is taking a beating. And their football team did worse than tiny Wales in the European Cup, coming back home in a tearing hurry and once again offering the beleaguered nation cause for mourning.

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And to say that a nation that once ruled the waves, building an Empire, is desperately short on pride and has so far had little reason for some kind of summer celebration is to state the obvious.

Little wonder that many brands of royalty were present in the Royal Box. From the Duke (Prince William) and Duchess of Cambridge to David Cameron, from Bjorn Borg to Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, it was filled with heavyweight celebrities and achievers.

All this was in anticipation of one event — something to toast, something to glorify in. And they knew that the only man who could deliver the summer solace was Andy Murray, no matter that he is a Scot.

Beg, borrow or steal, the English needed somebody to relieve them of the gloom. And Murray did this in style on Sunday in the men’s singles final of the 130th Wimbledon tennis championships as he outplayed a strangely wilted Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).

Then he sat down and cried. Even as a nation rejoiced, the one man who delivered something for Britain to be proud of shed copious tears of joy.

It was Murray’s third Grand Slam victory. The first had come at the 2012 U.S. Open and he followed that up with a triumph here in 2013.

For all his brilliance and accomplishments, there was a question over Murray’s confidence in Grand Slam finals. Not including this match, he had lost eight out of 10, and all the defeats had come at the hands of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

And once they were out of the way, Murray’s confidence soared. Today, his game was tidily aggressive and he played an array of criss crossing winners off both sides when Raonic approached the net.

Raonic was born in Montenegro and his parents migrated to Canada (Ontario) when he was just three. He took to tennis, aged eight, and first gained world attention for the quality of his serves, which sometimes hit the ground like rocks thrown down from a skyscraper.

At 6 feet and five inches, with an army crew cut and an unsmiling demeanour, he could very well audition for the lead role in any Terminator-like series of films. But he is actually a well-schooled man who wants to study for a degree once he is done with tennis.

But for all the talk about his potential to climb to the very top, Raonic is still a player with lots of limitations. Having Carlos Moya in your corner and listening to John McEnroe’s words of wisdom may not turn you into a world beater overnight.

What Raonic lacks is consistency from the back of the court, a solid net game — let’s not get carried away by the odd commendable volley — and most of all, on-court intelligence and flexibility.

He has one game, the one he plays, riding on the back of his huge serve — his fastest today touched 147 mph — and fails to improvise or put into motion a Plan B.

Curiously, for a player who had beaten the greatest of them all — Roger Federer — two days ago, Raonic seemed short on confidence today.

What he did very well against the Swiss legend was to bring out his best in the face of adversity — this he especially did in his own service games.

Raonic came into this match holding 98 per cent of his service games in six matches and saving 22 of 27 breakpoints.

All this meant little today as he failed to reprise what he did against Federer. What is more, only three weeks ago, in the final at the Queen’s Club tournament, Raonic had lost to Murray after leading by a set and a break.

Carefully checking on notes taken during his sessions with Ivan Lendl — who sat unsmiling in the players’ box — Murray showed that he has learnt his lessons from all those Grand Slam final losses, although Raonic is no Federer or Djokovic.

It was as straightforward a victory as he would have wanted. He broke the Canadian’s serve in the seventh game of the first set and then raced away, dominating Raonic in successive tiebreaks.

Murray did not lose a single service game in the entire match and saved the two that he faced in the fifth game of the third set.

If only Federer had not let go of the semifinal that was well within his grasp on Friday!