Wimbledon 2012: Men's Singles Final Shifts Power Struggle for No. 1 Ranking

Alex French@alex_frenchCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08:  Roger Federer of Switzerland (R) shakes hands with  Andy Murray of Great Britain after defeating him during their Gentlemen's Singles final match on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The stage was already set for a monumental Wimbledon men's singles final even before a point had been played.

Roger Federer, who defeated title holder Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, was amidst a personal crusade to return to the No. 1 world ranking—a position he previously held for a record 237 weeks. His recent dominance in men's tennis cannot be understated. The titles, accolades and finals appearances are numbers that will forever remain in tennis lore.

On the opposite side of the net, world No. 4 Andy Murray hit each forehand with the power of a nation behind him. He too looked poised to climb atop of the tennis mountain, having reached four Grand Slam finals in three years before Sunday's final.

Not since Fred Perry's triumph in 1936—his third in a row—has a man from Great Britain hoisted the nation's tennis trophy above his head.

However, a 76-year hiatus remained intact as Federer downed Murray in four sets, 4–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–4. 


Federer's Return to Greatness

The man with 17 major titles to his name had not won a title since the 2010 Australian Open. His finals loss at the 2011 U.S. Open meant he wouldn't win any Grand Slam majors in a calendar year for the first time since 2002.

Even for Federer's high standards, his game was slipping.

Yet the Swiss avoided a complete fall from grace on Sunday, battling back valiantly after dropping the first set.

His seventh career title at the All-England Club ties American great Pete Sampras, as his five consecutive titles rank among the best of all time. It wasn't a question of if Federer would win another Wimbledon title, but when.


Heartbreak for Murray

In what surely isn't an understatement, Murray's loss on Sunday was heartbreaking. The native Scotsman showed it by pouring out his heart during his consolation speech.

Centre Court at Wimbledon was a cross-section of celebrity, politician, and powerful figures alike, and they all wanted the same thing.

An Andy Murray victory.

Yet, what could have been fell heartbreakingly short.


What This Means For Tennis

Both Federer's victory and Murray's defeat signify more than just a winner and a loser. The men's singles final constitutes a true shift in the ongoing power struggle for tennis' pinnacle peak—world No. 1.

Current tennis bourgeoisie Rafael Nadal and Djokovic—both of whom seemed to distance themselves atop the mountain in the past 12 months—weren't invited to the party. Murray was searching for glory while Federer looked to remind himself of that all too familiar taste. 

But, with Federer's triumph and Murray's heartbreak, a larger meaning transcended than just a win and a loss. A balance of tennis aristocracy climaxed the horizon and will shine for months on end.

Nadal and Djokovic aren't alone anymore. They're once again joined by familiar company: Roger Federer and Andy Murray.