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Hail, Murray!

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Andy Murray became the first player to win two Olympic tennis singles gold medals Sunday and admitted his epic four-set victory over Juan Martin del Potro was one of the toughest matches he has ever played.

The 29-year-old world number two defeated del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a final which lasted over four hours and suffered numerous, dramatic shifts in momentum.

Played out against a background of deafening noise generated by a legion of passionate, screaming Argentine fans, Murray admitted the final had pushed him to the limit.

“It was probably one of the hardest matches I have had to play to win a big final,’’ said the British star who added Rio gold to his 2012 London Olympic title and Grand Slam collection of the 2012 US Open and 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon crowns.

“This was tough emotionally and physically, there were lots of ups and downs.

“This was much harder to win than London four years ago. The final then was more straightforward. Tonight anything could have happened,’’ he said.

“I am very tired. We played four hours on a slow court which meant a lot of running. It was very humid and I served badly.

“All of that made the match tougher than it was already. But I managed to get the breaks of serve and then served well at the right moments.’’

Murray said he was proud of his achievement especially as it was sealed in a final which featured 15 breaks of serve and ended with both men exhausted and exchanging a lengthy embrace at the net.