LONDON — Novak Djokovic tried drop shots. He tried volleys. He tried just about everything he could think of.
None of it worked.
The 2011 Wimbledon champion had no answers for Andy Murray on Sunday, and lost 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on Centre Court at the All England Club.
“I mean, he was getting some incredible shots on the stretch and running down the drop shots. He was all over the court,” said the top-ranked and top-seeded Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam champion playing in his 11th major final and trying to win his second of the year. “He played fantastic tennis, no question about it. He deserved to win.”
Although Djokovic struggled with his serve, he still managed to get up a break in the second and third sets. Both times, Murray broke back, and then broke again.
Overall, Djokovic was 4 for 13 on break points, while the second-seeded Murray finished 7 for 17.
“The bottom line is that he was a better player in decisive moments,” Djokovic said. “Both second and third sets, I was 4-2 up and dropped the serve in those games and just allowed him to come back for no reason.”
Both Djokovic and Murray play defensive tennis, almost mirroring each other with their get-to-every-ball style of play. But Djokovic, a Serb who has been the best player in the world for the last two years, tried to do something to mix it up on Sunday, to make Murray uncomfortable at his home Grand Slam.
His efforts paid off for only brief moments.
“He stands behind the baseline, and when he defends he goes far away. So I try to be aggressive and kind of use the whole court,” Djokovic said. “But the volleys and drop shots didn’t serve me well. He was getting all of them, basically.”
Murray started to notice more of those often pesky drop shots coming his way in the third set.
“He didn’t do it that much I didn’t think the first couple of sets. It was working and he was hitting them well, and that was probably why he continued to do it,” said Murray, the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. “It’s a way of shortening points. And when you hit them as well as that, your opponent’s running and you’re just standing there really, so it worked well for him.”
Djokovic took over the No. 1 ranking two years ago just by making the Wimbledon final. Once there, he beat Rafael Nadal, dropped to the ground and actually ate a blade or two of the Wimbledon grass. He said then that he wanted to see how it tastes.
This year, he leaves tasting defeat.
“It’s a very high level of tennis that we competed at today. I knew I had to be on top of my game in order to prevail in this match,” Djokovic said. “I wasn’t patient enough in the moments when I should have been, when I should have looked for the better opportunity to attack, and my serve wasn’t as good as it was the whole tournament.”