Say it now. Say it again. Remind yourself that, today, in blistering heat, on slippy worn-out grass, Andy Murray won on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Throughout the season, journalists have filed endless reports on the exceptional circumstances of this electrifying Championships. They told us that this was shaping up to be the game-changing year. This year’s action in SW19 – so they said – would be remembered for decades.
And how right they were.
In precisely 24 hours, the Olympic Opening Ceremony is due to get under way, as the world’s eyes (an expected 4.8 billion people will watch) turn to London to see our capital city stage these 2012 Games.
For so many involved with the Games so far, it will in fact very much mark the end of their ‘Olympic journey’: the architects have long-since closed the files on the brilliant designs for the stadia, most of the builders have hung up their high-vis jackets and safety hats, while the final temporary signs are being tie-wrapped to lamp-posts and fences.
Now, E20 (the fictional EastEnders postcode officially issued to the Olympic Park by Royal Mail), along with all of the other venues, is ready. It’s now up to the athletes to do their very best. Team GB are already smiling: Andy Murray, of course, performed brilliantly on the lawns of Wimbledon just a few weeks ago, and last Sunday a Briton won the gruelling Tour de France competition.
Tom Daley, who was the subject of a truly excellent documentary that went out on Monday night, was eleven years old when Jacques Rogge announced the word ‘London’ (to the great delight of the thousands that had gathered in front of a big screen in Trafalgar Square) on 6 July 2005. Daley is now a man. Olympic organiser Seb Coe is now also seven years older and, unlike Tom, seven years greyer. But, despite all the headline-making “cock-ups” (not least last night’s Korean flag mix-up) and extreme costs of the Olympics, Seb and his team have done a great job.
It ended like we’d sadly all been expecting – a win to Federer after this most tense and exciting of Wimbledon Men’s Finals. But so few of us would have admitted that we didn’t have absolute confidence in our Scottish hero (the first British man to even reach the Singles Final in 74 years) going all the way, if you’d have asked earlier in the weekend.
That said, when both Andrew Castle and Mark Petchey (former British Number Ones) were asked for their predictions on today’s game, they both concluded that it would be Federer who would take the trophy (and the £1,150,000 prize money). “Murray is good enough to win and Federer isn’t invincible, but I can see Federer sneaking through based on the fact that he’s been there and done it six times before.”, Castle said. And Tim Henman was quick to point out that Murray has beaten Federer more times than Federer has beaten Murray.
“How big is this match, historically? I keep hearing that question here. A personal view is that it would be the biggest triumph on home soil since 1966. Virginia Wade, Ashes victories and Nick Faldo winning The Open were all big. But Britain reclaiming men’s tennis from the mists of 1936 would be immense. We’re about to watch the greatest of all time slug it out with the best British player for 74 years. It’s perfect staging.”
— Paul Hayward, comment on Telegraph live coverage page, 8 July 2012
Perhaps for just a moment we let ourselves imagine that the hyperbole-driven coverage of these Championships, in (as we kept being reminded) the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the fast-approaching London Olympic Games, would successfully inspire and drive Murray to win. Further boosted by Englishman Jonathan Marray’s win with partner Frederik Nielsen in the Men’s Doubles Final yesterday (Saturday) – the first British winner of that title for 76 years – an audience of 20 million were expected to tune in this afternoon hoping to see a final jewel added to this year’s British sporting crown.