WIMBLEDON, England – Roger Federer sweetly made delicate volleys drop as if it was no trouble at all. He ferociously aimed his one-handed backhand deep into the corners of Centre Court, making the ball land on lines and kick up chalk. He relentlessly kept attacking with his forehand, taking it crosscourt and up the lines.
And finally he made Andy Murray cry.
The third-seeded Federer, who turns 31 on Aug. 8 and had been without a major tournament championship for more than two years, earned a record-tying seventh Wimbledon men's singles title Sunday with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Murray, a Scotsman who had desperately wanted to be the first British man to win in singles here since Fred Perry in 1936.
Fourth-seeded Murray, now 0-4 in Grand Slam tournament finals and beaten by Federer in three of those, tried to speak to the sympathetic Centre Court crowd after the final shot.
"Getting closer," Murray said before breaking down. As he tried to regain his composure he said, "I hope I can get through this," and then he congratulated the champion. "Not bad for a 30-year-old."
Federer had a more fierce reaction, filled with fist pumps and yells, after securing his 17th major title, and first since the 2010 Australian Open.
As he got further and further from that victory in Melbourne, Federer paid attention to the sounds of doubt, to suggestions written and spoken that he might be too old.
But he said he never considered them. "I knew how close I was the last few years and some people didn't quite see that," Federer said. "But I knew and I think the belief got me to victory today."
Performing in front of a Royal Box populated with British Prime Minister David Cameron, soccer great David Beckham and his wife Victoria and the Dutchess of Cambridge, more familiar as Kate Middleton, and her sister Pippa, Federer was relentless in taking away hometown hope, never more so than in the sixth game of the third set.
Murray served through 10 deuces and saved five break points, but on the sixth it seemed as if Federer used every shot he knew until Murray could only lunge with a forehand. The ball landed in the net and Murray hung his head. That gave Federer a 5-2 lead and about four minutes later he served out the set, the winning shot coming with an authoritative ace.
As if gathering energy by the moment, Federer grabbed the first break of the fourth set with a breathtaking backhand passing shot to take a 3-2 lead, and from there Murray could not even earn a break point.
Along with the win, Federer also will regain the No. 1 ranking in the world Monday, his 286th week at the top, which ties Pete Sampras. Sampras, who last won Wimbledon in 2000, and William Renshaw, whose last Wimbledon win was in 1889, also have seven titles here. Sampras' 14 major titles rank second to Federer's 17 in the Open era of men's tennis.
And, a day after Serena Williams became the first woman in her 30s to win the Wimbledon singles title since a 33-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1990, Federer became the first man in his 30s to do so since 1975. Arthur Ashe was five days shy of his 32nd birthday when he won that year.
There was a 40-minute rain delay in the third set, and the Centre Court roof was closed, making this Wimbledon final the first to be played both outdoors and indoors.
When play resumed, Federer came out aggressively.
"I think I played some of my best tennis the past couple of matches," said Federer, who upset defending champion and soon-to-be-former No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
A more composed Murray, who hadn't won a set in his first three major finals appearances, said he found positives to take away from the emotional loss.
"I played better this time in the final," he said. "That's the main thing. It's not an easy tournament for British players in many ways but I think I dealt with all the extra things better than maybe I had done in the past."
The 25-year-old Murray also said Federer should now be considered one of the greatest athletes in history, along with Pele and Muhammad Ali and another tennis player, Rafael Nadal.
"And he's still playing amazing tennis," Murray said. "A lot of people have been asking me, 'Has he started slipping? Is he not playing as well?' But if you look at the matches he lost the last couple of years, some were very, very close, matches he could have won. He could be sitting on 20 Grand Slams if one point or a couple of inches changed here or there. He's still playing great tennis. I don't think you get to No. 1 unless you deserve it."
• MIXED BLESSINGS
Mike Bryan of Camarillo and Lisa Raymond of Norristown, Pa., won the mixed doubles title Sunday, beating Leander Paes of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.