WIMBLEDON, England - Regarded as a gifted but combustible junior player, Scotland's Andy Murray has gained control of the petulance and self-loathing that tended to undermine his performance when important points went awry.
In the end, the Wimbledon final Sunday wasn't settled by any implosion on Murray's part, nor by any paralysis in the face of pressure from a nation that has waited 76 years for a homegrown men's champ.
Roger Federer won 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 on superior skill and higher risk tactics but suggested afterward that Murray isn't far off.
"I really do believe deep down he will win Grand Slams, not just one," said Federer, who now has 17 major titles. "He works extremely hard. He's as professional as you can be. I'm sure today he got one step closer to a Grand Slam title."
Murray also got closer to a British sporting public that has never been quite sure it liked him, or vice versa, given his fierce Scottish pride.
On Sunday, they came to know him better, as the Scot struggled to speak through his tears in thanking his family, friends, coach and trainers for their support. Then he thanked the British fans and TV viewers.
"Everybody always talks about the pressure of playing at Wimbledon, how tough it is," he said. "It's not the people watching; they make it so much easier to play. The support has been incredible, so thank you."
Among the fans were John Greenough, his wife and their four children, all with a letter each on their shirts to spell out "Murray." After the match, the father stood with a Union flag wrapped around his shoulders. He felt "great pride" in Murray's performance.
"You could see what it meant to Andy, and it's the same for the entire country," Greenough said. "We were really upbeat after the first set. He couldn't have tried any harder. Federer was just in his own class, really. ...
"One day he'll win it, with any luck."
• Alas, Murray fell to 0-4 in Grand Slam finals, three against Federer. Only one other man lost the first four major title matches of his career: Ivan Lendl, who is coaching Murray now. While Lendl never did win Wimbledon, perhaps Murray can take solace from knowing his coach ended up with eight Grand Slam titles.
• The most monumental game Sunday came with Murray serving and trailing 3-2 in the third set. It was chock-full: 10 deuces, six break points for Federer, three falls to the turf by Murray, all spread over 20 gloriously intense minutes.
Murray went up 40-love, then began to crack as Federer walloped two backhand returns to 40-30. On the next point, Federer conjured up another beautiful drop shot and Murray tumbled head-over-heels while giving chase; both Federer and the chair umpire went over to check on him. A few points later, Murray did a somersault at the baseline when he slipped going after a lob. And on it went before Federer won the game.
• Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond of the United States won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title. They beat Leander Paes of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.