OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Murray gold worth the Wimbledon heartache
ANDY Murray dabbed his moistened eyes again at Wimbledon yesterday, though this time they were tears of joy and relief rather than just desperate disappointment.
WINNER: Andy Murray laid his Wimbledon ghost to rest after he beat Roger Federer to claim
gold in the Olympics men's tennis singles
Just four weeks after his loss to Roger Federer at the All England Club, the British number one produced the greatest performance of his career to win the Olympic singles title.
The victory does not officially end Great Britain's 76-year wait for a major tennis title but it concludes an even longer wait for an Olympic tennis champion - Major Josiah Ritchie winning gold in 1908.
Murray has lost three Grand Slam finals against Federer and only ever won a set in matches the Swiss had ruthlessly imposed himself on.
However, this was the moment his fortunes changed, even the weather was on his side, the sun coming out and the roof coming off just moments before both players walked out.
Federer was going in search of the only major title missing from his collection, seeking to join an exclusive club of career 'Golden Slam' winners that includes just Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.
But Murray had no intention of helping him make history again.
Forget the Fed Express, Federer just looked like he'd been hit by an Express train, perhaps The Flying Scotsman, as he lost in a way few can remember.
He lost nine straight games as the British number one dominated, the winning scoreline, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
This was Wimbledon folks but not as we know it, the guttural deep voiced chant of Team GB replacing the more shrill and familiar 'C'mon Andy'.
And perhaps that's why Federer, who has won seven singles titles here, looked so out of sorts.
"This is number one for me - the scoreline is irrelevant but it's the best match I've played and the biggest win of my career," said Murray, who has career earnings of over $20 million and hasn't earned a penny in the last seven days.
"At important moments in the match I played really well. Unlike the Wimbledon final I converted my chances and that gave me the momentum I needed.
"I would love to win Wimbledon but this felt good and I wouldn't change this win for anything. This has been the best week of my tennis life by a mile.
"I have lost some tough matches and had questions asked about me but this was the performance that I've been waiting for.
"I'm Olympic champion and it's amazing. I've had a lot of tough losses in my career and this was the best way to comeback from the Wimbledon final."
But Federer insisted there was no sorrow in silver and refused to blame his epic semi-final win over Novak Djokovic for his performance.
"It's been an incredible month for me, winning Wimbledon again, becoming world number one again and winning the silver medal here," he said.
"It's been a tough tournament and a very emotional tournament and maybe those emotions hindered me against Andy.
"But that is no excuse, he played very well and was the much better player.
"He was so confident and he took his chances and I didn't. He never doubted himself from the moment he walked on the court.
"He's had a tough few years and I'm very happy for him and pleased he got the gold."
With the enormity of his achievement still not sunk in, Murray rushed to see his entourage, sitting in Wimbledon's famous players' box. He hugged girlfriend Kim Sears and mother Judy and high-fived his close knit support team.
His mother gives Murray his fighting zeal but Sears keeps him grounded and relaxed - his form dipped when they briefly split - and she was the only person he wanted to spend time with in the days after his defeat at Wimbledon.
Murray will have little time for rest, heading across the Atlantic for the US hard court season, which he has always said is his favourite time of the year.
"We've not won a singles Olympic gold in 100 years so when it comes to Wimbledon I now know it's possible to win something that hasn't been won for a long time," he said.
"I felt more relaxed today than I did before the Wimbledon final and now I've won this hopefully I will be even more relaxed should I get the opportunity again.
"Come US Open time I hope this will have given me the confidence to believe in myself more than perhaps I have in the past."
Within an hour Murray was back on court for the mixed doubles final alongside Laura Robson but there was no golden double as the pair lost a tense tie-breaker 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 and settled for silver.
"I'm a bit gutted because it would have been nice to win another gold, it's greedy but once you've got one you'd really like another," he said.
"It was very close and it came down to just a couple of points, we were a bit unlucky unfortunately but they played very well.
"I've always loved the Olympics so to win a gold and silver medal in one afternoon isn't too bad."
Victoria Azarenka, the world number one, and doubles specialist Max Mirnyi had just too much guile and experience when it mattered.
Robson, in particular, was gutted, though her failure to hold serve ultimately proved decisive.
"We were so close to gold so at the moment my overwhelming feeling is disappointment," she said.
"A week ago I was just so happy to be playing at the Olympics so to be a silver medallist is pretty cool.
"You put more pressure on yourself when you play for Great Britain and it's been one of the best weeks of my life.
"I thought we played well for most of the match but they were a very tough team and she served well when it mattered and I didn't."
© Sportsbeat 2012