So it wasn't to be after all. Despite becoming the first British male to reach the Wimbledon final since 1938, Andy Murray couldn't match the achievements of Fred Perry two years prior to that and claim the title as he went down 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 4-6. In destroying the hopes of a nation, Roger Federer cemented his place as the greatest man to ever pick up a racket, picking up his seventh Wimbledon title, drawing him level with Pete Sampras' record, and making it grand slam number 17.
Murray may divide opinion in Britain (a dour Scot, a big-game choker, some claim), but it was hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy as he bid a tearful farewell to the centre court after picking up another grand slam runner-up trophy. That's four for the collection now and with it an ever-growing pressure to claim one of the game's majors. "At least I'm getting closer," he managed to joke through the tears afterwards, having failed to win a single set in his three previous final appearances (in Melbourne, twice, and New York).
And yet it had all started so well. Both men began at a cracking pace, with Murray breaking Federer in the opening game. It was the Swiss maestro who surprisingly looked the edgier. While he soon found his groove to win three in a row and take a 3-2 lead, Federer surrendered his serve again, allowing Murray to serve out and take the opening set 6-4.
Set two proved equally tight, with Murray fashioning the greater number of break points, but failing to take them. Instead, Federer turned on the style as Murray at 5-6 couldn't take the set into a tie-break. Two moments of magic sufficed as the Swiss fashioned a break point and then snatched the set with the most delicate of sliced drop-volleys.
And then the British summer played its part. At 1-1 in the third, the heavens opened; a good time for Murray to regroup said the ever-dapper Boris Becker in the commentary box. But it was an intervention that was to ultimately prove beneficial to Federer and not Murray. As the rain continued to fall, the order came to close the roof - 30 minutes respite for the players and the chance for punters to recharge their Pimms glasses.
"Aha," said the BBC's expensively assembled expert panel. For the first time, the Wimbledon final was going to be played indoors, and these were conditions that would likely suit Federer, they believed. No wind, no sun, the perfect conditions for his uniquely effortless brand of tennis. Have you ever seen Roger Federer sweat? No, and despite a commendable effort from Murray, he wasn't about to start now, it seemed. The unforced errors were cut down, the number of winners rose and Murray was starting to get down on himself, which is usually a bad sign. While Ivan Lendl may have improved his charge's body language a little, Murray could still take a leaf or two out his coach's book, whose face remained a mask throughout. He must be some poker player.
One break of serve in each set sufficed and Federer closed out for victory to clinch his first major title in two-and-a-half years and first Wimbledon crown since 2009. It also means that he overtakes both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to become world number one again, a not inconsiderable achievement given their stranglehold on the game in the last two years.
What next for Andy Murray? He was right in that he is getting closer - this was a very good performance against a man who looked back to his imperious best in the final two sets. If there's one man that can help him it must surely be Lendl, who also lost his first four grand slam finals as a player. Murray certainly seems to be more proactive than in the past, less content to sit and wait, but the one area he still needs to work on is his serve. Just 56% of his first serves were in (contrast this with 69% for Federer) and his second serve remains vulnerable to the best in the game.
The centre court crowd had seen a similarly see-saw battle the day before, when Serena Williams won her fifth Wimbledon singles crown against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams had out-muscled Victoria Azarenka in the semi-final, serving a frightening 24 aces, and at set and a break up over the Pole, things seemed like coming to a tame and predictable end. Credit to Radwanska, though, who came back to win the second, before succumbing in the third.
For Williams, it was the first grand slam title since cutting tendons in her foot while out in a Munich restaurant in 2010. That incident was the catalyst for some serious health problems for the American, culminating in a pulmonary embolism and a hematoma. The road to recovery has been a long one and, much like with Federer, many were sceptical if Williams would ever win another slam. Her Wimbledon win puts her on 14 grand slam singles titles, fourth on the all-time list, and John McEnroe even went so far as to call her the greatest female player ever.
It was a good tournament for German tennis, which supplied four of the 16 quarter-finalists across the men's and women's draws. Florian Mayer, who also appeared in the Wimbledon quarters back in 2004, has enjoyed a good 18 months that has seen him re-establish himself among the world's top 50. He had the misfortune of facing world number one Novak Djokovic, though, and was comfortably beaten. His fellow Bavarian, Philipp Kohlschreiber, who won the ATP tournament in Munich earlier this year, also fell at the same stage, going down to French powerhouse Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four competitive sets.
On the women's side, Angelique Kerber faced Sabine Lisicki in an all-German encounter, with the higher-ranked Kerber prevailing to reach her first Wimbledon semi-final, where she lost to Radwanksa. It's been a stunning 12 months for Kerber, who has risen from just inside the top 100 to establish herself in the world's top 10, reaching two grand slam semis and winning two tour titles along the way. While it may lack a true star, German tennis is in excellent health: six men are currently ranked inside the top 100, with five women inside the world's top 40. It's the sort of strength in depth that most other countries can only dream of (particularly Britain).
So, the curtain closes on a fine Wimbledon, with remarkable parallels between the men's and women's champions. Both Federer and Williams have proved that there is life in the 'old dogs' yet and that reaching 30 does not automatically mean an end to major titles. It will be interesting to see where both go from here, starting at the US Open in six weeks time. Women's tennis lacks a dominant force and few would bet against Serena triumphing again in New York, but (cue debate) men's tennis remains the main draw: with Federer back in the winner's circle, Murray still hungry, Nadal looking to recover from a shock early loss in London and Djokovic not quite hitting the heights of six months ago, it promises to be a fascinating couple of months.