Andy Murray was trying to do what no Brit had in 76 years. Roger Federer was trying to accomplish what he already had done six times.
Considering the pressure on Murray on Sunday at Wimbledon and the resume of Federer at the All England Club, it was hard to imagine a result other than Federer's 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory even after the Scot captured the first set.
Forget that Murray is in his prime at age 25 and that Federer might be past his at 30. Beating a multiple-time champion in the finals at Wimbledon is one of the hardest things to do in sports.
Pete Sampras went 7-0 in the Wimbledon finals. Bjorn Borg was 5-1. The only thing keeping him from perfection was losing two tiebreakers to John McEnroe in 1981. Federer is now 7-1 in Wimbledon finals. The lone blemish, hardly one of which to be ashamed, was his epic, five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in 2008.
Sampras, Borg and Federer make an interesting trio of Wimbledon dominators. It's often said that grass courts favor adrenaline-fueled, serve-and-volley power players. Big bombers such as Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Michael Stich fit the mold and won at Wimbledon but captured no other Grand Slam titles.
But Sampras, Borg and Federer don't fit conveniently into the Wimbledon prototype. The shared characteristics that served them best in pursuit of the most coveted title in the sport might have been their low-key composure and iron will.
Federer showed it Sunday, winning back-to-back points that lasted 17 and 20 strokes, allowing him to break Murray and win the momentum-changing second set. In the third set, Federer won another battle of wills, a 20-minute game in which he broke Murray to go up 4-2.
"When it counts, Federer just goes up to a level no one can live with," John Lloyd of the BBC announced.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker also chimed in on BBC.
"[Murray] lost to a better player," Becker said. "Most successful player of all time. There's no shame in losing to Roger Federer."
Lloyd lost his share of matches to Borg, and Becker lost his share to Sampras, including the 1995 Wimbledon final. They know the look of a Wimbledon dominator.
- Kevin Dunleavy