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Wild Wimbledon Wrap-Up

Goodman Sports associate Liam Ray reports:

It was a tumultuous fortnight at the All-England Club. Top seeds, many of them Hall-of-Fame caliber players, found themselves packing their bags long before even the quarterfinals began. Rafael Nadal and his balky knees exited in the first round (especially shocking considering he had just won the French Open earlier in the month). We bid farewell to Roger Federer, last year's champion, in only the second round. 2012's Ladies' Champion Serena Williams didn't fare much better; she was eliminated in the fourth round. The trio took with them 14 combined Wimbledon titles. Early on, it was clear that this was a Wimbledon for the underdog, but we had to wait until the finals to see the biggest upset of all.

Andy Murray, Britain's favorite (tennis) son, captured his first Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam with a three-set sweep of number one seeded Novak Djokovic. Sure, Murray was the number two seed. You might say that a two seed beating a one seed isn't much of an upset, but, as millions of ecstatic Britons could tell you, you'd be wrong.

You see, the Brits have been waiting for a British man to win Wimbledon since the great Fred Perry did it in 1936. That 77-year wait is one year longer than the wait between Halley's Comet appearances. In other words, it's kind of a big deal.

Murray's three-set sweep is deceptive because his first Wimbledon win definitely didn't come easy. Neither Murray nor Djokovic are known for having a dominant serve, so the match featured plenty of long volleys and a combined total of just 13 aces.

Despite all of the pressure annually heaped on Murray to win Wimbledon, it was Djokovic who came slow out of the gate in the first set. He committed 17 unforced errors to Murray's six, and managed only six winners to Murray's 17. Murray immediately established the dominance of his serve and volley game, winning 16 of 19 of his first serve points, including five of his nine aces for the match.

The crowd held its collective breath after Murray took a seat, having won the first set 6-4. Could this finally be Murray's year?

Djokovic is a fantastic tennis player, and he played like the six-time Grand Slam winner that he is in the second set. Murray forced the Djoker to come into the net over and over, and he responded by winning 12 of his 16 net point opportunities. After five games, Djokovic was up 4-1. Murray had won the first set against Djokovic and gone on to lose several matches in the past. The assembled Brits, among them Prime Minister David Cameron and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, wondered whether they would go home disappointed once again.

Murray roared back, winning six of the next seven games in a stunning reversal that put him on top two sets to love. With both finalists being masters of the return game, the second set featured many long points, including a two-point series that took 58 combined shots to resolve (the average point is over in less than 10 combined shots). Djokovic could not overcome Murray's relentless precision on first serves: he got 73% of them in, forcing the Djoker into awkward returns from which he couldn't recover.

Murray continued his strong play into the third set and soon found himself just one point away from the victory that he and so many other Britons had been waiting for, but the last point turned out to be the hardest, and Djokovic showed he would not simply bow to history by almost breaking Murray's serve three times on that decisive final point. At last, Murray regained the advantage, and Djokovic returned Murray's final shot weakly into the net.

Britain's underdog raised the Wimbledon trophy before a cheering crowd, savoring a victory 77 years in the making.

On the women's side, the bracket was even more volatile. Marion Bartoli, the number 15 seed and eventual champion, never faced an opponent seeded higher than number 17 seeded Sloane Stephens (and didn't face a ranked opponent at all until the quarterfinals) of the United States. Stephens missed a golden opportunity for a breakout tournament, but she remains one of the US's best hopes for future success. Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, and Caroline Wozniacki  (ranked 2, 3, and 9 in the world, respectively) all bowed out in the second round, leaving the bracket wide open early. German Sabine Lisicki was the real Cindarella of the women's side, as she defeated Williams and four-seed Agnieszka Radwanska as a 23-seed. Unfortunately, the clock struck twelve for her in the final as Bartoli dominated her 6-1, 6-4 to win the Ladies' title.

It was definitely a Wimbledon to remember. Brits went home happy, and we crowned ourselves two new champions. We will see if the greats like Nadal and Federer can get it together by the next Grand Slam, but Murray is definitely somebody to look out for.