WIMBLEDON, England — Andy Murray overcame top seed Novak Djokovic to win the Wimbledon title and end Britain’s 77-year wait for a male champion at the All England Club.
The second-seeded Murray beat the 2011 winner from Serbia 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on a hot day on Center Court.
“I know how long everyone has waited for this,” Murray said. “I hope you enjoyed it.”
The 26-year-old Dunblane, Scotland-born Murray is the first British man to take the singles title on the London lawns since Fred Perry, who won Wimbledon in 1936 during the short reign of Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle. Perry’s statue stands next to Center Court. Before Sunday, Virginia Wade was the last British player to clinch the title, in 1977.
The final was watched by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister David Cameron from the royal box on Center Court, as well as a record television audience in the Britain.
In a first set full of long baseline rallies, play was back on serve until 3-3 as both got broken early on. The crowd roared loudly as Murray broke for 4-3, and easily served out the set 6-4 with a service winner.
In the second, both men put on hats as temperatures reached 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). Djokovic was in command of most of the second set as he cut down on his errors and won most of the long rallies. With the Serb a point away for a 5-2 lead, Murray cracked a backhand return winner, and broke on a double fault.
Another unforced error by Djokovic — this time a netted forehand — gave Murray the lead for the first time in the set with 6-5. Murray clenched his fist as he took a two sets to love lead with a 125-mph ace.
Djokovic, whose 4 hour, 45 minute semifinal with Juan Martin del Potro was an All England Club record, looked subdued when he started serving in the third.
After a bathroom break, Djokovic continued to struggle early on in the third set, as Murray set up a breakpoint with a blistering backhand passing shot off a volley that bounced up high.
Following a break on an unforced error, Murray held to love to take a 2-0 lead. Djokovic momentarily regained the initiative as he won four straight games. With Djokovic serving at 4-2, Murray broke back with a powerful forehand that drew an error and leveled for 4-4 on his own serve.
Murray broke again to take a 5-4 lead with a pair of passing shots.
Murray went up 40-love, but Djokovic won three straight points to put pressure on him. The Serb got a break point as Murray’s errors mounted, but couldn’t take it. He got another with a net cord that flitted just over the net. Murray won the next point, and then tried his own drop, that Djokovic pushed back for a winner on a tight angle.
Murray got another match point, guessing correctly on a Djokovic slam and hitting a backhand that wasn’t returned.
The Briton took it, and then knelt on the court as his mother, Judy, cried in the box. He greeted Djokovic and engaged the crowd.
Murray’s win comes a year after he lost his first Wimbledon final in four sets to Roger Federer, the greatest player of his era with 17 major singles titles.
Just like in previous years, “Murray Mania” in Britain had intensified as he advanced, especially after Federer was beaten in the second round and two-time champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the first round. Murray could have played either one in the semifinals. His draw was eased further after half the seeds in the top 10 exited Wimbledon before the third round either through injury or defeat.
“It makes it all more impressive,” Djokovic said after the match. “I know the pressure that is on him. I gave it all, it was a pleasure and honor to be part of this final.”
Almost every Sunday newspaper in Britain had Murray on its cover Sunday. A pair of Center Court tickets for the final were offered for as much as 71,000 pounds ($105,719), according to online marketplace Viagogo. Spectators trying to get a spot inside the grounds to follow the match on the giant screen outside of Court No. 1 had started camping out for a ticket Saturday morning.
After crying on Center Court last year after his loss to Federer, Murray turned his season around. He dominated the Swiss a month later to clinch the gold medal at the London Olympics, which was also played at the All England Club. Murray ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a male major singles champion in New York in September, beating Djokovic in the U.S. Open finals.
Djokovic, a six-time major singles champion, had beaten Murray 11 of the 18 times they played before Sunday, including a victory in the final of the Australian Open at the start of the season.
The pair, who are only a week apart in age and have known each other since they were juniors, played on grass only once before Sunday — at last year’s Olympics. Murray said his straight-sets win then had boosted his confidence ahead of Sunday’s match.