Andy Murray said he used Britain’s best day at the Olympics in 104 years to inspire him to beat Roger Federer in the men’s singles tennis final.
The fourth-ranked player from Scotland screamed, jumped and embraced his family after he overpowered men’s Grand Slam record holder Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 on Wimbledon’s Centre Court yesterday to become the first British male to win the Olympic singles title since the 1908 London Games.
The day before, host nation Britain had won six gold medals and a silver, its biggest single-day haul since 1908. The victories included three in track and field.
“I was watching the athletics and it was just amazing,” Murray said in a televised interview after he won the final with an ace. “It gave me a boost coming into today. The momentum the team has had the last couple of days has been so good.”
The night before the tennis final, Mo Farah became the first British male to win the 10,000 meters after Jessica Ennis claimed gold in the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford became the country’s first long-jump champion since 1964.
“The way Mo Farah won,” Murray, 25, said. “I do 400-meter repetitions in my training and, when I’m completely fresh, I can do it in 57 seconds. His last lap after 9,600 meters was 53 seconds. It’s just an unbelievable fitness.”
Britain has 37 medals in all, including 16 golds. China tops the standings with 61 in total, including 30 golds. The U.S. has 60 medals, 28 of them gold.
Last month, Murray said he was “getting closer” after he lost the Wimbledon final to Federer in four sets. Murray won the first set and squandered two break points for a 3-2 lead in the second.
Yesterday, Murray took command from the start, never wavering as he dictated play with his backhand.
Murray dropped one point on his serve in the final set and won nine straight games against 17-time major singles champion Federer, from 2-2 in the first set.
Federer, the doubles champion in Beijing four years ago who has yet to win singles gold, said in a news conference that he couldn’t remember losing nine games in a row.
The Swiss right-hander, who turns 31 this week, added that his path to the final had left him “emotionally drained.”
Federer said he’d been on the verge of tears after overcoming Alejandro Falla of Colombia in the opening round. He then beat Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in 4 hours, 26 minutes, the longest Olympic match, in the semifinals.
Del Potro Match
The win over former U.S. Open winner Del Potro, who yesterday defeated Serbia’s Novak Djokovic for the bronze medal, “may have cost me the final,” said Federer, who made 31 unforced errors to Murray’s 17.
Federer was pleased to see his opponent come through.
“I was happy to see that he didn’t have a letdown after the Wimbledon final,” Federer said. “He came here and he won gold. That is how champions react.”
A few hours after his singles win, Murray and 18-year-old Laura Robson lost in the mixed doubles final to Belarussian pair Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, the top-ranked player on the women’s tour.
Also yesterday, Serena and Venus Williams retained their women’s doubles title by beating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4.
They’re the first pair to win the title at successive Olympics since fellow Americans Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.
Serena, 30, two days ago secured her first Olympic singles title by beating Russia’s Maria Sharapova.
Tennis, one of the original nine Olympic sports in Athens in 1896, was withdrawn after the 1924 Paris Games. It returned in Seoul in 1988, when German Steffi Graf became the only player to complete the “Golden Slam” by winning all four majors and the Olympic title in the same year.