LONDON (AP) -- Andy Murray needed one more point, one solitary point, to win Wimbledon - a title he yearned to earn for himself, of course, and also for his country.
Britain had endured 77 years since one of its own claimed the men's trophy at the revered tournament referred to simply as The Championships, and now here was Murray, on the brink of triumph after 3 hours of grueling tennis against top-seeded Novak Djokovic under a vibrant sun at Centre Court.
Up 40-love, Murray failed to convert his first match point. And his second. And then, yes, his third, too. On and on the contest, and accompanying tension, stretched, Murray unable to close it, Djokovic unwilling to yield, the minutes certainly feeling like hours to those playing and those watching. Along came three break points for Djokovic, all erased. Finally, on Murray's fourth chance to end it, Djokovic dumped a backhand into the net.
The final was over.
The wait was over.
A year after coming oh-so-close by losing in the title match at the All England Club, the No. 2-ranked Murray beat No. 1 Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to become Wimbledon's champion in a test of will and skill between a pair of men with mirror-image defensive styles that created lengthy points brimming with superb shots.
"That last game will be the toughest game I'll play in my career. Ever," said Murray, who was born in Dunblane, Scotland, and is the first British man to win the grass-court Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry in 1936. "Winning Wimbledon - I still can't believe it. Can't get my head around that. I can't believe it."
For several seasons, Murray was the outsider looking in, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 Grand Slam titles. But now Murray has clearly and completely turned the Big 3 into a Big 4, having reached the finals at the last four major tournaments he entered (he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a bad back). And he's now a two-time Slam champion, having defeated Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open in September.
All this from a guy who lost his first four major finals, including against Federer at Wimbledon in 2012. After that defeat, Murray's voice cracked and tears rolled as he told the crowd, "I'm getting closer."
How prescient. Four weeks later, on the same court, he beat Federer for a gold medal at the London Olympics, a transformative victory if ever there was one. And 52 weeks later, on the same court, he beat Djokovic for the Wimbledon championship.
"You need that self-belief in the important moments," observed Djokovic, a six-time major champion, "and he's got it now."
Murray's mother, Judy, who is Britain's Fed Cup captain, agreed that the setback 12 months ago "was a turning point in some ways."
"Every time you have a really tough loss, a loss that really hurts you," she said, "I think you learn a lot about how to handle the occasions better going forward."
Murray trailed 4-1 in the second set Sunday, and 4-2 in the third, before wiggling his way back in front each time.
He won the last four games, breaking for a 5-4 lead when Djokovic flubbed a forehand, setting off a standing ovation and applause that lasted more than a full minute. When he got out of his changeover chair, preparing to serve for the title, an earsplitting roar accompanied his trek to the baseline.
Djokovic missed a backhand, Murray smacked a backhand winner and added a 131 mph (211 kph) service winner, and suddenly one point was all that remained between him and history. That's where things got a tad complicated.
On match point No. 1, Djokovic capped a 12-stroke exchange with a forehand volley winner. On No. 2, Djokovic hit a backhand return winner off an 84 mph (135 kph) second serve. On No. 3, Murray sailed a backhand long on the ninth shot.
Now it was deuce.
"I started to feel nervous and started thinking about what just happened," Murray said. "There's a lot of things you're thinking of at that moment."
The match continued for eight additional points.
Seemed to take an eternity.
"Just how that last game went, my head was kind of everywhere. I mean, some of the shots he came up with were unbelievable," Murray said. "At the end of the match, I didn't quite know what was going on. Just a lot of different emotions."
Any of Djokovic's break points in that game would have made it 5-all, and who knows what toll that would have taken on Murray's mind? But Murray erased the first two chances with a 116 mph service winner, then a forehand winner on the 21st stroke.
At deuce for a third time, Djokovic conjured up a forehand passing winner to get his third break point. Murray dropped his head and placed his hands on his knees. The crowd clapped rhythmically and shouted, "Andy! Andy!" They couldn't know it, but their man wouldn't lose another point.
On a 16-shot exchange, Djokovic delivered an overhead that was retrieved, then tried a drop shot that Murray got back. Djokovic put the ball in the net, and Murray was at match point No. 4. When that one went Murray's way, the ball on Djokovic's side of the court, Murray dropped his neon-red racket, yanked his white hat off and pumped both fists overhead, screaming, "Yes! Yes!" He was looking directly at the corner of the stadium with benches for members of the press, a group that he used to worry helped fuel the intense pressure and only-one-way-to-satisfy-them expectations on Murray's shoulders.
"It's hard. It's really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it's been very, very tough, very stressful," Murray said. "It's just kind of everywhere you go. It's so hard to avoid everything because of how big this event is, but also because of the history and no Brit having won."
When a Brit did win, 15,000 or so spectators around the arena rose and yelled right back at him, some waving Union Jacks or blue-and-white Scottish flags. Soon, Murray was climbing into the guest box for hugs with his girlfriend, his mother and his coach, Ivan Lendl, who won eight major titles as a player but never fared better than the runner-up at Wimbledon.
"I didn't always feel it was going to happen," said Murray, who fumbled with his gold trophy after the ceremony, dropping the lid. "It's incredibly difficult to win these events. I don't think that's that well-understood sometimes. It takes so much hard work, mental toughness, to win these sort of tournaments."
At the end, across the grounds, thousands responded with cheers while watching on a giant videoboard at the picnic lawn known as Murray Mount. And, surely, millions more following along on TV across Britain stood up from their sofas. British Prime Minister David Cameron was in the Royal Box, a sign of the day's significance, and Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II sent Murray a private message afterward.
"The end of the match, that was incredibly loud, very noisy," Murray said. "It does make a difference. It really helps when the crowd's like that, the atmosphere is like that. Especially in a match as tough as that one, where it's extremely hot, brutal, long rallies, tough games - they help you get through it."
Said Djokovic, who famously ate blades of grass after winning Wimbledon in 2011: "The atmosphere was incredible for him. For me, not so much. But that's what I expected."
The fans were active participants throughout, lamenting "aHTTP://WWWW" when Murray missed a serve; cheering rowdily when he hit one of his 36 winners, five more than Djokovic; shushing in unison when someone called out in premature agony or delight while a point was in progress.
That was understandable. Points rarely are over when they appear to be if Murray and Djokovic are involved. The elastic Djokovic's sliding carries him to so many shots, while Murray is more of a powerful scrambler. It took a half-hour to get through the opening five games, in part because 10 of 32 points lasted at least 10 strokes apiece. And this all happened with the temperature above 80 degrees (27 Celsius), with only the occasional puff of cloud interrupting the blue sky.
Born a week apart in May 1987, Murray and Djokovic have known each other since they were 11, and they grasp the ins and outs of each other's games so well.
"You've got to fight so hard to get past Novak, because he's such an incredible competitor, an amazing athlete, and it's never over `til it's over," Judy Murray said.
This was their 19th meeting on tour (Djokovic leads 11-8), and their fourth in a Grand Slam final, including three in the past year. Both are fantastic returners, and Murray broke seven times Sunday, once more than Djokovic lost his serve in the preceding six matches combined.
In the late going, Djokovic was taking some shortcuts, repeatedly trying drop shots or rushing to the net to shorten points, but neither strategy tended to work.
"He was getting some incredible shots on the stretch and running down the drop shots," Djokovic said. "He was all over the court."
Admittedly feeling the effects of his five-setter Friday against Juan Martin del Potro - at 4 hours, 43 minutes, it's the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history - Djokovic was far more erratic than Murray, with particular problems on the backhand side. Djokovic wound up with 40 unforced errors, nearly double Murray's 21.
"I wasn't patient enough," Djokovic said.
Ah, patience. The British needed plenty when it comes to their precious, prestigious tennis tournament.
Thanks to Murray, the wait is over.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matt Adams got a curtain call after the biggest swing of the game. Then the St. Louis Cardinals capitalized on the day's biggest mistake.
Jon Jay scored from first on a single after right fielder Giancarlo Stanton's throwing error with two outs in the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday.
"We've had a lot of close games like this that we couldn't quite pull off at the end," manager Mike Matheny said. "So, it doesn't matter to me. Just that we did."
Edward Mujica (1-1) worked a scoreless ninth for the Cardinals after Adams' pinch-hit, two-run homer tied it two innings earlier.
Jay drew a full-count walk off A.J. Ramos (3-3) with two outs in the ninth and took third easily on Robinson's pinch-hit single, then scored without a play after Stanton hesitated before throwing a relay that skipped under Logan Morrison's glove at first base.
"I was just trying to get the ball before it hit the ground," Morrison said. "I should have played it back or just let it go because it was on the line.
"We should have won that game, no doubt about it, but we didn't and now it's over and that's why we play every day."
Stanton did not speak to reporters after the game.
The Marlins got homers from Derek Dietrich and Morrison but their run of four straight series wins ended after dropping the first two against the Cardinals.
Manager Mike Redmond was ejected for arguing a close play at the plate in the fourth, with replays indicating Adeiny Hechavarria's legs crossed the plate before catcher Tony Cruz tagged him on the shoulder.
Redmond was already frustrated after an incorrect call at third base Friday ended up saddling the Marlins with an unusual double play in a 4-1 loss. He thought Hechavarria was "clearly safe" and wasn't certain that Cruz made the tag.
"I knew that run was going to be big," Redmond said. "You can only take so much, right? I think of those guys in the dugout and they're busting their butts. You've got to stick up for those guys, too."
Adams' homer off Mike Dunn foiled the Marlins' switch from starter to a lefty-lefty matchup and tied it at 4. Adams has both of the Cardinals' pinch homers this season and is 6 for 16 against lefties with two homers and six RBIs.
"In that situation, I don't know if I'd pull him for anyone," Matheny said. "He's earned it. If we're going to use him, we're going to use him."
Both starters reached season bests for innings, with Eovaldi going up three runs in 6 2-3 innings and Joe Kelly allowing four runs in six innings.
Matheny gave Kelly the fifth spot in the rotation on June 22 but the Cardinals didn't need him until now because of three off days, and the right-hander was used just once in long relief on June 28 before facing the Marlins. Matheny said Kelly will get another start next week.
Morrison has four homers in his last six games against the Cardinals. His fourth of this season put the Marlins up 3-1.
Kelly singled for his sixth career hit in 38 at-bats and scored on Matt Carpenter's triple in the third, a hooking drive that barely got past center fielder Marcell Ozuna. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single before Matt Holliday grounded into his 21st double play, by far the most in the majors.
Dietrich doubled with one out in the second and scored easily on Hechavarria's single.
NOTES: The Cardinals are slotting ace Adam Wainwright ahead of rookie Shelby Miller on Tuesday, giving the 11-game winner two starts heading into the All-Star break but making him ineligible to pitch in the game. ... A second straight giveaway, this one for Holliday jerseys, attracted a second straight sellout with attendance of 45,475. Fans jammed entrances more than two hours before game time, to make sure they got the souvenir given to fans 16 and over. ... Cardinals SS Daniel Descalso had two throwing errors, a day after 2B Carpenter had a pair of errors. ... Cruz made just his eighth start of the season with Yadier Molina sent for medical tests on an injured knee. ... Cardinals starting SS Pete Kozma, in an 0 for 17 slump, did not play for the third straight game.
LONDON (AP) -- Ever since she was a kid, practicing until midnight with her father, Marion Bartoli went about playing tennis her own way.
The two-handed strokes for backhands, forehands, even volleys. The hopping in place and practice swings between points, which help her focus. The unusual setup for serves - no ball-bouncing, arms crossed, right wrist resting on her left thumb before the toss.
Whatever works, right? This unique Wimbledon, appropriately enough, produced a unique champion in the ambidextrous Bartoli, the 15th-seeded Frenchwoman who won her first Grand Slam title by beating 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-4 Saturday in an error-filled, one-sided final that was far from a classic.
"It's always been a part of my personality to be different. I think being just like the other one is kind of boring. I really embrace the fact of being a bit different and doing something that not everyone is," said the 28-year-old Bartoli, who plays tennis right-handed but signs autographs with her left. "I actually love that part of my game, being able to have something different."
She certainly stands alone.
This was Bartoli's 47th Grand Slam tournament, the most ever played by a woman before earning a championship.
She is the only woman in the 45-year Open era to win Wimbledon playing two-fisted shots off both wings (Monica Seles, Bartoli's inspiration for that unusual style, collected her nine major titles elsewhere).
Until Saturday, it had been more than 1 1/2 years since Bartoli won a tournament at any level.
Until these last two weeks, Bartoli's record in 2013 was 14-12, and she had failed to make it past the quarterfinals anywhere.
Asked how to explain how she went from that sort of mediocre season to winning seven matches in a row at Wimbledon, never dropping a set, Bartoli briefly closed her eyes, then laughed heartily.
"Well," Bartoli said, spreading her arms wide, "that's me!"
Unlike Lisicki, a first-time major finalist who was admittedly overwhelmed by the occasion and teared up in the second set, Bartoli already had been on this stage, with the same stakes. Back in 2007, Bartoli won only five games during a two-set loss to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final.
"I know how it feels, Sabine," Bartoli said during the on-court trophy ceremony. "And I'm sure, believe me, you'll be there one more time. I have no doubt about it."
Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to win Wimbledon without facing anyone seeded in the top 10 - her highest-rated opponent was No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the United States in the quarterfinals. That's in part because of all of the injuries and surprises, including exits for No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 7 Angelique Kerber, No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Maria Kirilenko by the end of the second round.
Lisicki, meanwhile, used her game built for grass - fast serves, stinging returns, superb court coverage - to end defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams' 34-match winning streak in the fourth round. Lisicki also eliminated past major champions Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, along with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year's runner-up.
But Lisicki was an entirely different player Sunday, rattled by every little thing, even the walk downstairs from the locker room to Centre Court and the final-afternoon ritual of players carrying bouquets of flowers when they enter the arena.
"Everything is a little bit different. You've been here for two weeks; the feeling, atmosphere, gets different," said Lisicki, who is based in Bradenton, Fla., and marked her rare winners Saturday with yells of "Yes!" or "Come on!"
"I felt fine this morning, but it's an occasion that you don't get every day," she said. "So it's something completely new for me. But I will learn and take away so much from it."
When play began under a sunny sky, it was Bartoli who looked jittery, double-faulting twice in a row to drop the opening game.
Then it was Lisicki's turn to serve, and she returned the favor, double-faulting on break point - her last serve barely reaching the bottom of the net - to make it 1-all.
From there, Bartoli took over, winning 11 of 12 games, and doing exactly what her father, a doctor who taught his daughter how to play, used to hope and imagine could happen in such an important match. Standing inside the baseline - another sign of individuality - Bartoli got back serves that topped 110 mph. She won the point on 9 of 11 trips to the net. She dictated the flow of baseline exchanges, thinking one or two moves ahead, the way one tries to do in chess, her father's favorite pastime.
"I was doing everything well," Bartoli said. "I was moving well. I was returning well. I mean, I really played a wonderful match."
It was not exactly the greatest theater or a "How To" guide for young players. Bartoli and Lisicki combined for more unforced errors, 39, than winners, 36. They finished with 11 doubles-faults and eight aces. When Lisicki double-faulted twice in one game while getting broken to trail 4-1 in the second set, she covered her face with her racket as her eyes welled.
"I was a bit sad that I couldn't perform the way I can," Lisicki said.
Lisicki already was on the precipice of defeat when she finally did look like someone who entered the day with a 19-4 career record at Wimbledon - the afternoon's lone, brief moment of intrigue and competitive tennis. Facing match points while serving at 15-40 with a scoreline of 6-1, 5-1 in Bartoli's favor after only 67 minutes, Lisicki suddenly remembered how to play again.
She hit a swinging backhand volley winner to erase one match point, then a 106 mph service winner to take care of the next. Another followed shortly, and this time Bartoli put a backhand into the net. At deuce, Lisicki smacked a 115 mph service winner and a 114 mph ace to hold serve for the second time in seven tries.
Bartoli, who said she napped for a bit and danced to music in the locker room beforehand to stay loose, now was the one who was tight. With the crowd roaring after nearly every point, wanting more match for their money, Lisicki broke to 5-3, then held to 5-4.
Lisicki put together third-set comebacks against Williams and Radwanska, but could she really dig herself out of this hefty deficit?
No. Bartoli served out the match at love, using that one-of-a-kind serve to close with a 101 mph ace that hit a line and sent chalk dust spraying.
"You can't describe that kind of feeling. You cannot put (into) any words what I feel in this moment," said Bartoli, who won earned 1.6 million pounds (about $2.4 million). "I can't believe I won Wimbledon this year. We'll have to see the pictures, to see the match again on DVD, to ... realize it."
So might everyone else.
Soon after that final ace, she was climbing atop an overhang to get to the guest box for hugs with her father, Walter, and other members of her entourage, including French Fed Cup captain Amelie Mauresmo (the last player from France to win a Grand Slam title, at Wimbledon in 2006) and hitting partner Thomas Drouet (who began working with Bartoli in May after splitting with a player, Australia's Bernard Tomic, whose father faces court charges in Spain for allegedly assaulting Drouet).
"She fooled a lot of people during this fortnight," Mauresmo said.
Bartoli didn't let anything faze her, including a blister on her right big toe she said was the size of a quarter and left her sock bloody. When Lisicki took an extended bathroom break after the first set, Bartoli ran out to the baseline under the Royal Box and, facing a wall, jumped in place, did deep-knee bends, took practice cuts.
All of her idiosyncrasies were on display Saturday. The raised fist to celebrate pretty much every point she won. The sprints to the sideline at changeovers. And, most importantly of all, those flat forehands and backhands, putting her racket on balls while they're still low to the ground.
At 7 1/2, she watched Seles beat Steffi Graf in the 1992 French Open final, and Bartoli decided - with Dad's encouragement - to adopt the double-handed technique. Her father devised all sorts of original training methods, including taping tennis balls to the heels of her shoes so she'd be forced to stay on her toes. He also used balls of varying colors and sizes to work on hand-eye coordination.
"All the pros were saying that I was completely crazy when they used to see me working with Marion," said Walter Bartoli, who got to town Friday. "But I kept believing in myself - and Marion."
Good thing, too.
No matter what else happens, she will always be the winner of the 2013 title at the All England Club.
"Just hearing `Wimbledon champion,' that kind of sounds good to me," Bartoli said, rocking forward in her chair and chuckling. "I wanted that so badly. ... It was like: Dare to dream. I kept dreaming. I kept my head up. I kept working hard. And it just happened."