July 1, 2021
Andy Murray was still on a high. He couldn’t believe the volume of support he had received on Centre Court as he pulled off yet another minor miracle.
It was past midnight when he wrote on twitter: ‘Unreal atmosphere out there tonight…thanks so much to everyone that was in there watching and supporting. You carried me over the line. Life in the old dog yet eh!’
This is the Wimbledon intimacy we have been predicting for a good few months now. Murray has seen a few big occasions and more important triumphs on Centre Court.
But nothing quite like this extraordinary and mutual appreciation.
We told you Wimbledon 2021 would be unique because it would feature a super-close relationship between players and spectators.
This has already proved to be the case. And it’s never more obvious than when Murray is on court.
Let’s face it, every match that Scotland’s Braveheart plays is like a final at Wimbledon this year.
Murray inspires the Centre Court crowd and they inspire Andy right back.
We thought the atmosphere was electric when he played and beat the dangerous Nikoloz Basilashvili in his opening match.
But what happened both on and off the court during his 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Germany’s Oscar Otte was truly moving.
You could call it a solidarity in seizing the day – or should that be night?
The joyous show wasn’t short of a spellbinding climax.
To clinch victory with the help of two breath-taking lobs was simply perfect and brought the house down.
The lob is the one shot that Murray plays better than any of the all-time-greats.
Better than Roger Federer. Better than Rafael Nadal. Better than Novak Djokovic.
To conjure that trademark magic at just the right time to complete an unforgettable night was almost like a thank you to those who had never stopped believing in him.
A thank you in particular to those who had paid the money to come and shout for him in person.
Murray said: ‘What an atmosphere to play in at the end!
‘The whole crowd was amazing but there were a few guys who were in there getting me fired up.’
In the immediate aftermath of victory, he appeared to single out at least three fans to reward with personal mementos as a symbol of his gratitude.
But he added: ‘I needed everyone’s help tonight and they did a great job. I played some great shots at the end to finish it but it was a tough match.’
Although there were tricky moments in the middle of the contest and Murray was probably aided by the closure of the roof, you could feel his stubborn refusal to let this last adventure slip away.
His love for the big occasion demanded that he live to fight another day.
After all the injury heartbreak, Andy wanted to play to the crowd like never before. He did so and he will doubtless use the same powerful weapon tomorrow.
Yes, his reward for a stunning victory late on Wednesday evening is one more match. One more “final” on Friday.
Denis Shapovalov will provide formidable and spectacular opposition to the dream of a third Wimbledon title for Britain’s favourite sportsman.
He is the super-talented tenth seed and the Canadian will have his own ambition to progress.
But who knows what Murray can achieve on Friday with the Centre Court crowd so massively on his side?
Win or lose, he will make it one of the most precious memories of his entire career.
Will you be there to see one of the great events of this sporting British summer?
Will you add your support for the home favourite, who appreciates each and every spectator so much?
Andy Murray will make it a magnificent occasion.
As he says, there’s life in the old dog yet. So let’s get behind him.