Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were, among other things British, all weighing Andy Murray down. What a load as he strove to be the first British guy to scale the Big W all the way to the final since Bunny Austin in 1938. Austin lost to a Yank named Don Budge (three-quarters of the way to the original Grand Slam), and Murray, the gifted Scotsman, was also waylaid by a Yank: the other Andy, as he’s known here. Andy Roddick.
There was more to it than the local pressures, dating back 73 years when a Brit, Fred Perry, actually won the title of 1936. Perry then turned pro, becoming ineligible for the major championships, as were all pros until the game opened up in 1968.
Yes, there was more than homeboy Andy’s nerves involved: the fact that tourist Roddick stunned the sellout crowd of 15,000 by putting on the performance of his life. You could have said that about Roddick’s tense 5-set quarter-final win over the rebounding 2002 champ Lleyton Hewitt. Except that the conquest of Murray was even better, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-5).
Everything was working swimmingly for Roddick – the hefty serve, but also the backhand and volleys that had been liabilities. He seldom gave Murray any relief. However, at one juncture it could have turned Murray’s way: opening game 3rd set, Roddick quickly lost the first 3 points to 0-40. Three break points. But the American saved himself by going on the offensive for 5 straight points. Looked like Murray had him on the 30-40 point, knocking a certain passer down the line – but Roddick took it away with a lunging backhand volley.
Though a sad day for Britain, the gritty Murray is only 22 and should be a contender for some time. Now it’s the long wait until the next Wimbledon, and Fred Perry is now 74 years distant.