When Andy Murray broke down in tears on Centre Court after the most painful defeat of his life, it was impossible to imagine the Scot would be on the verge of a second Wimbledon title just four years later.
Murray’s showdown with Milos Raonic on Sunday is the world number two’s third appearance in the Wimbledon final and the previous two couldn’t have been more contrasting.
It was the first, a heartbreaking four-set loss to Roger Federer in 2012, that planted the seeds for Murray’s eventual coronation.
Tormented by his fourth successive Grand Slam final loss, Murray openly wept during an on-court interview following his defeat against Federer, uttering only “I’m getting closer” before dissolving into tears.
Yet the pain provided more fuel for Murray and he made a cathartic return to Wimbledon for the Olympics just weeks later.
Heeding the advice of his coach Ivan Lendl, who had also endured a long wait to claim his first major before winning multiple titles, Murray let rip and routed Federer in the final.
That golden moment gave Murray the impetus to conquer New York.
Leading by two sets in the US Open final against Novak Djokovic, Murray was on the verge of grasping that elusive first Grand Slam before the Serb roared back to level the match, prompting a bathroom break that has gone down in history.
Steadying his nerves in front of a toilet mirror, Murray looked into his reflection and told himself to finish the job.
He did just that, lifting his first major trophy and immediately setting his sights on putting himself into the Wimbledon history books.
Murray’s date with destiny came on July 7, 2013, when he vanquished Djokovic and the ghost of Fred Perry with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory on a gorgeous sunlit afternoon.
Staving off several break points as he served for the title in a denouement he described as “the hardest game of life”, Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, ending the nation’s obsession with finding a champion to follow in the legendary Perry’s footsteps.
It was the culmination of a remarkable journey for Murray, whose tennis talent was first spotted by his mother when he was aged three on modest public courts in the family’s hometown of Dunblane, Scotland.
In a terrifying twist of fate, the young Murray would survive the Dunblane school massacre that claimed the lives of 16 children and one teacher in 1996.
A 43-year-old man opened fire on the children before shooting himself in a gymnasium that Murray had been on his way to at the time.
After honing his skills at a renowned tennis academy in Barcelona, Murray showcased his talent to the world by reaching his first major final at the US Open in 2008, losing to Federer in that encounter and also the Australian Open final two years later.
By the time he was beaten by Federer at Wimbledon, Murray feared he would never be able to call himself a Grand Slam champion.
But his remarkable work ethic and intense focus were rewarded during a golden period under the guidance of the demanding Lendl.
When he split with the Czech legend in 2014 after Lendl refused to commit more time to the partnership, Murray went into a funk that lasted two years.
Working with former women’s world number one Amelie Mauresmo brought Murray plaudits as a feminist pioneer in the macho world of men’s tennis, but the relationship yielded no more Grand Slam titles, even though Murray made mutiple major finals, losing all of them to Djokovic.
After Djokovic claimed yet another trophy, his 12th, at Murray’s expense in this year’s French Open final, the frustrated 29-year-old placed a call to Lendl to finally persuade his mentor to return to the fold.
Reinvigorated, Murray has reeled off 11 successive victories -- bringing him a record fifth Queen’s Club crown and to the brink of becoming the first British man to win multiple Wimbledon titles since Perry in the 1930s.