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July 7, 2013

At Wimbledon final, a closely matched Murray and Djokovic

WIMBLEDON, England — The legend of 1936 champion Fred Perry, the last British man to win the Wimbledonsingles title, has been Andy Murray’s constant companion for years.

The Scotsman has faced questions about Perry — who is commemorated in statue form outside Centre Court — since Murray began ascending the world rankings. At Wimbledon last year, Murray’s first chance to make a triumphant reply, he lost a four-set final to Roger Federer.

“Winning Wimbledon,” Murray said, “is pretty much the pinnacle of the sport.”

Between Murray and another chance to reach that pinnacle stands Serbian Novak Djokovic, also a constant companion but in a different way. The two men, who were born a week apart in 1987 and first faced each other in a junior tournament when they were 11, will meet for the Wimbledon title Sunday on Centre Court — a few hundred yards from that statue of Perry. With so much at stake, there’s little separating them.

The key difference is that Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in the world, counts the 2011 Wimbledon championship among his six Grand Slam titles and has an 11-7 head-to-head lead over No. 2 Murray since 2006. Djokovic won their last three matches since Murray beat him twice in a row, on grass in the semifinals of the London Olympic tournament and in five sets on the hard court of the 2012 U.S. Open final for Murray’s only Grand Slam title.

Earlier this year, Djokovic defeated Murray in four sets to win the Australian Open. This will be the third time in the last four Grand Slam finals that they will play for the title.

The similarities extend to their statistics here. Murray has served 80 aces, to 76 by Djokovic. Murray’s first-serve percentage is 65 percent, Djokovic’s 66 percent. Each has won 95 service games. Djokovic has dropped 80 games; Murray has lost 82. Djokovic has spent 14 hours, 26 minutes on the court in six matches, to 14:51 for Murray.

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