After rising above the crushing, seemingly unsurvivable pressure resting on his own shoulders to capture his own second Wimbledon title after a brilliant performance borne out of his own two hands and feet, Andy Murray celebrated his third Grand Slam title by watching as Ivan Lendl’s name was uttered around the world.
Lendl was mentioned by Sue Barker in Murray’s immediate winner’s speech, then again numerous times in his press conference, and even as he skipped around the inhabitants of Royal Box, from Kate and William to Benedict Cumberbatch, the famous people he exchanged small talk with were sure to mention his coach, too.
The performance Murray delivered to comprehensively dismantle the hopes and ambition of Milos Raonic was stunningly businesslike in how he managed of all that pressure. As Raonic strived for best Pete Sampras impression, lumbering to the net point after point, Murray set about exposing every last weakness of the Canadian’s game - regularly obscured by the bombastic serve.
Aside from the waves of angled passing shots every time Raonic stumbled into the net, Murray exhibited a return masterclass for the Centre Court crowd. The Scot is the second best returner in the world and one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
He deflected Raonic’s deliveries with precision to within inches of the baseline. At one point, Raonic smashed down a 147 mph bullet, the second fastest serve in Wimbledon history, straight to the body. Murray handled the return, then slipped another passing shot winner two shots later.
It’s not clear whether Murray’s greatest achievement was to capture his second Wimbledon or, as he did, to reduce the famously stoic Lendl to tears, but whichever it is Lendl will receive credit. On one hand, the Lendl-worship is normal. He should be worshipped - it was he who delivered Britain their first Wimbledon champion in millenniums and when the statue of Murray is finally erected, Lendl’s should stand, or sit, right next to him.
Lendl is the man Murray rightfully credits with inspiring him to reach the heights that allowed him to capture his first slam titles. The surly Czech embedded in Murray the attacking DNA that unlocked his forehand and planted the seeds in Murray that have blossomed into a player whose first instincts in difficult positions is to hit himself out of them, rather than the old Murray’s passive waiting.
But the central truth of Murray’s victory is that the run that started it off can be traced back long before Lendl’s arrival at Queen’s. Murray has been the second best player in world, and by far, since the turn of the year. Since the clay season, the Scot has transitioned into perhaps the best form of his career and certainly the greatest run of tournaments he has ever recorded.
“Since probably Monte-Carlo, has been some of the best I've played in terms of consistency. I made the finals of the last five tournaments,: here, Queen's, French, Madrid and Rome. I don't think I'd done that before in my career,“ said Murray.
But Murray has had to make lemonade with the sourest lemons ever presented to a player of his Hall of Fame calibre. His victory over Raonic marked the first time in 11 Grand Slam finals he has faced a player other than Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic – arguably the two greatest players of all time.
Murray’s second Wimbledon victory is not a consequence of a four-week reunion with Lendl. Rather, it’s the work of being present at the top of the sport every single year since his breakthrough at the US Open 2008. Murray had to stomach universal criticism of his mental strength when he initially had the audacity to somehow not be a better tennis than Roger Federer in his prime, nor Djokovic ahead of his historic 2011 season. But the Scot shrugged off defeat and allowed the pain of failure to motivate him rather than becoming desensitized to it. It’s clearly something that he is endlessly proud of.
“Failing's okay, providing that you've given your best and put everything into it,” he preached. “Failing's not terrible. I put myself in a position all of the time in these events to win them. Haven't won them all of the time. I've lost a lot of close ones against great players most of the time. Just have kind of not being afraid of failing. Sort of learning from all of my losses. That's what I've done throughout most of my career.”
Murray’s reward for learning from his failures and biding his time were presented to him this week. After all those years of sipping the most sour lemonade from the shortest straw, Murray finally caught a break as the draw broke open and he was presented with a golden opportunity to win his second Wimbledon title with ease. And it is his title, and only his.
Read the original article on Eurosport: Forget Lendl; this triumph was all Murray's