Federer can't stop Murray, British gold rush

3:41 PM, Aug 5, 2012   |    comments
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Aug 5, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Andy Murray (GBR) celebrates with a flag and gold medal after defeating Roger Federer (SUI) in the men's singles final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wimbledon. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

WIMBLEDON, England - "An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!"

They came waving Union Jack flags, and smiling with painted Union Jack faces. Some wore Union Jack derbies, though not, we are happy to report, the Duke of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester in the Royal Box.

They came to chant Andy Murray's name, with the excited thought that so mighty was the home team's momentum in the Olympics, not even Roger Federer could stop it.

Turned out, he couldn't. Turned out, he didn't have the chance of a bug against a windshield. Turns out nearly everything Great Britain touched this weekend turned to gold - even Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

He is 0-4 in Grand Slam finals. Four weeks ago Sunday, on this very Centre Court, he had fought tears after losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final and failing to end Great Britain's 76-year vigil for a men's champion.

Swallowed by disappointment, it seemed nothing could soothe the hurt.

Turned out, one thing could.

"An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!"

Murray called it "the biggest win of my life," and when it was over, when he had blown the last ace past his old nemesis and the old place shook with the noise, he went into the stands to hug his girlfriend and family and anyone else.

Meanwhile, Federer took his racquets and quietly walked away. Time to leave someone else's party.

"This is a dream for Murray," John McEnroe said on the BBC.

It's been that way lately for one British athlete or another. They come to the arena with a burden on their shoulders and leave with a gold medal around their necks.

"Andy wanted to be part of that," former British tennis star Tim Henman said. "He wanted to continue to gold rush."

The Grand Slam past of both men didn't mean 10 pence this day, for very different forces were at work. It was over in three sets and 1:56 - 27 minutes faster than the winner of the women's marathon. There were so many flags waving at the end, the collective breeze made the trees sway.

"It's worth it," Murray said of all those days of hard close calls. "I've had a lot of tough losses in my career, but this is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I'll never forget it."

After seven Wimbledon titles, it could be argued Federer owns Centre Court - lock, stock and strawberries and cream. Not Sunday, he didn't. He appeared out of the tunnel first in his Switzerland red shirt, then Murray came next in his British blue, and Federer might as well have been Ohio State taking the field at Michigan Stadium.

The irony was positively Olympian. This is Federer's tennis heaven on earth, but it was booby trapped for him Sunday, giving off an ominous and relentless chant.

"An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!"

Federer said he has faced tougher crowds, but he had little doubt this one helped push Murray, especially once he got the lead. "He never looked back," Federer said.

"They helped me get a few extra miles an hour the last couple of serves," Murray said.

There had been morning rain. The Williams sisters won their doubles gold medal with the roof closed, but the skies cleared in the afternoon, so Centre Court was its usual open-air self. A break for Federer, it seemed, for with a closed roof, all that Murray noise would have had nowhere to go. It would have sounded like the Metrodome.

It nearly did, anyway.

On Henman Hill, the picnic tables were packed and nearly every available grass space was taken by groups on blankets. A family at four sat at one table, each in a Union Jack shirt, eating off a Union Jack table cloth. The family of Mike and Natalie Rothwell had never been to Wimbledon, but they were not about to miss this.

"It's more for the kids than it is for us," Mike said, nodding toward his 15-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter. "So they can tell their kids."

The Rothwells' thoughts on Murray?

"It's his turn," he said. "He'd rather win the Olympics than Wimbledon. He can win Wimbledon next year. He can't win the Olympics in London ever again."

So true. Wimbledon has seen championship tennis for eons. It has welcomed legends through time. It has never seen a day like this.

When it was over, and Murray had returned from his hugfest in the stands to get his medal, there was only one thing left to do. And nearly all 16,000 people in the world's most famous tennis arena did.

You've never heard God Save the Queen until you've heard it sung on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

By Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY

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