Andy Murray wins second Wimbledon title

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LONDON — Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon championship was for his country.

This one was for Andy Murray.

Dulling big serves with quick-reflex returns, conjuring up daring passing shots and playing impressively mistake-free tennis all the while, Murray beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) on Sunday for his second trophy at the All England Club and third Grand Slam title overall.

In 2013, Murray famously ended Britain’s 77-year wait for one of its own to win the men’s final at Wimbledon, a quest that became burdensome.

Now he wanted a victory to end his personal rut of three consecutive losses in major finals, including at the Australian Open in January, and French Open last month.

“It is different. I feel happier this time. I feel more content this time. I feel like this was sort of more for myself more than anything, and my team as well,” the second-seeded Murray said. “Last time, it was just pure relief, and I didn’t really enjoy the moment as much, whereas I’m going to make sure I enjoy this one.”

This was his 11th Grand Slam final, but the first against someone other than Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer. The sixth-seeded Raonic eliminated Federer in five sets in the semifinals Friday, and also defeated the player who stunned Djokovic in the third round, Sam Querrey.

Those wins helped Raonic become the first man representing Canada to reach a major final.

He did it, primarily, by averaging 25½ aces through six matches. But on a breezy afternoon, at a Centre Court filled with nearly 15,000 partisan fans, Murray shut down that integral part of Raonic’s game.

“This one’s going to sting,” Raonic said.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Britain, what with its vote to leave the European Union, the drop of the pound’s value, and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, who was seated in the front row of the Royal Box on Sunday, several seats over from Prince William and his wife, Kate.

During the trophy presentation, Murray joked: “Playing in a Wimbledon final’s tough, but I certainly wouldn’t like to be a prime minister. It’s an impossible job.”

Murray, a 29-year-old from Scotland, long dealt with the expectations that accompanied being Britain’s best chance to find a male champion to succeed Fred Perry, who last won the grass-court tournament in 1936. After Sunday’s victory, Murray’s mother, former British Fed Cup captain Judy, referred to that old phenomenon as, “The constant, ‘When are you going to win Wimbledon? When are you going to win Wimbledon? When are you going to win Wimbledon?'”

But her son has dealt with that and thrived, thanks to a counter-punching game and sublime returns of serve.

It took Raonic 36 minutes and five service games to record his first ace, and he wound up with only eight. Over and over, Murray managed to get the ball back, even one that came in at 147 mph.

And while Murray only broke Raonic once, to lead 4-3 in the opening set, that was all it took, because the tiebreakers were surprisingly one-way traffic.

Murray also took 50 of 65 points he served across the first two sets, not only never facing so much as a break point in that span but also being pushed to deuce merely once.

Finally, at 2-all in the third, Raonic got to 15-40 for his first — and, it turned out, only — break points, thanks to a forehand return winner off an 82 mph second serve.

“Potentially turning points,” said Carlos Moya, one of a trio of coaches for Raonic, including John McEnroe. “If he got that break, who knows what could happen?”

But Murray stood tall, taking the next four points to hold, then wheeled toward his box, pumping his right fist and yelling.

According to the official statistics, Murray made only 12 unforced errors, two in the second set. While that’s a subjective accounting, anyone watching and listening could plainly tell that he was striking the ball cleanly and confidently, a crisp thwack resonating as racket strings hit ball, much more often than not putting shots right where intended.

“Really good stuff,” Murray said.

His opponent’s take? “He was playing much better than me off the baseline,” Raonic acknowledged.

Taking it all in from Murray’s guest box, with seemingly nary a smile, was coach Ivan Lendl. They worked together when Murray won his first two Grand Slam trophies, including at the 2012 U.S. Open, then split up, before reuniting last month.

Once again, that partnership paid off, and at Wimbledon, no less.

When he sat in his sideline chair after the match concluded, Murray wiped away tears with a tournament towel.

“To do it twice here,” he said, “an event where there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well — I’m very proud with how I’ve handled that over the years.”

2-time Wimbledon champ Kvitova wins return from knife attack

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PARIS — Sweat-soaked and still wearing her match outfit, Petra Kvitova was looking for someone to hug as she wandered into the players’ lounge in the French Open’s main stadium shortly after leaving the court Sunday.

She found her father, Jiri, and her brother, also Jiri, who greeted her with warm embraces and joyous kisses on the cheek. Kvitova’s family members rarely attend her tournaments, but this was different – “special” was the word she, and others, kept using.

Less than six months after a knife attack at her home, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova was back competing, winning the first match of her comeback 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup of the United States.

“I’m happy with the game, of course,” Kvitova said, “but I mean, it wasn’t really about the game today.”

Indeed, just being there under a cloud-filled sky at Court Philippe Chatrier was a triumph of sorts for Kvitova, who needed surgery on her left hand – the one she uses to hold her racket – after being stabbed by an intruder in the Czech Republic in late December. She was undecided until late last week whether to even try to play in the French Open.

“For us, it’s amazing. It’s miracle. Not even me or Petra thought she could be ready to come back so soon,” said her coach, Jiri Novak. “The prognosis was, let’s just say, not optimistic.”

During her on-court interview, Kvitova addressed Novak, her family and others in her guest box, saying: “Thank you for everything you helped me through (in) this difficult time.”

Several members of her entourage wore black T-shirts with white capital letters on the front that read, “Courage. Belief. Pojd.” That last word, which is the Czech equivalent of “Come on!” and was spelled with a red heart instead of the “O,” is often yelled by Kvitova to celebrate particularly good shots.

“The belief and the mind, the heart, it’s really important,” Kvitova said afterward. “So that’s … what we try to show everyone. I hope that it will be kind of inspiration for other people, as well.”

There were plenty of opportunities for her to clench a fist and scream “Pojd!” on Sunday against Boserup, who was making her debut in the French Open’s main draw and facing a lefty for the first time.

“She’s one of the nicest girls, and we are all really happy to see her back. After what she went through, it’s incredible,” Boserup said. “So it’s a victory for her to be back on court. It was really special.”

Kvitova began things with a quick forehand winner on the opening point.

“Amazing,” she said. “I surprised myself.”

Kvitova wound up compiling the match’s first 10 winners and finished with a 31-9 edge in that category. She took 15 of the first 20 points en route to a 3-0 lead and never really faced a whole lot of resistance, other than when she saved three break points – the only ones she had to deal with in the match – while ahead 3-1.

When it was over, Kvitova dropped her racket near the baseline and removed her blue headband. As she walked to the net for a handshake, her eyes welled with tears.

“We are happy that she is healthy. The hand is good – and also the head,” her brother Jiri said. “Mentally, she is back.”

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Venus Williams eases into French Open’s second round after beating Qiang Wang

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In a record 20th appearance at the French Open, Venus Williams eased into the second round with a straight sets victory over Qiang Wang of China.

Williams, who is seeded 10th, saved two set points to win 6-4, 7-6 (3).

The 36-year-old American will play Kurumi Nara of Japan in the next round.