Andy Murray ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion with an epic victory over Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.
Murray, 25, emulated Fred Perry’s 1936 achievement, winning 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in four hours 54 minutes in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Murray also reached the Wimbledon final and won Olympic gold this summer.”When I realised I had won, I was a little bit shocked, I was very relieved and I was very emotional,” said Murray.Despite his other successes, this result will arguably have a greater impact on his career and the future of tennis in the United Kingdom.
Murray – the new world number three – lost his first four Grand Slam finals to share an Open-era record with coach Ivan Lendl, but like the Czech he has triumphed at the fifth time of asking.And while it is a dream of Murray’s to win Wimbledon, the British number one has long been tipped to make his breakthrough at Flushing Meadows in the final major of the year. He was the boys’ singles champion there in 2004, hard courts are his favourite surface and he enjoys the atmosphere in New York.
Murray is unlikely to ever forget the atmosphere inside the world’s biggest tennis arena as he celebrated his success, which arrived in his 28th appearance at a Grand Slam tournament.A swirling wind made conditions troublesome for both players, but it was Murray who coped better in the first two sets and eventually ended Djokovic’s title defence and 27-match hard-court winning run at majors.”They were incredibly tricky conditions,” said the right-hander from Dunblane. “Novak is so strong, he fights until the end of every match and I don’t know how I managed to come through in the end.”
After early breaks were exchanged, Murray struck again before moving 4-2 ahead following a game that included a 54-shot rally.Djokovic rallied to force a tie-break, yet his opponent showed greater belief and took a sixth set point with 87 minutes on the clock.Murray roared with delight and carried his momentum into the second set, breaking an out-of-sorts Djokovic twice for a 4-0 lead. A lapse in concentration allowed Djokovic back in and when the Serbian landed a majestic lob for 5-5, Murray clutched his left thigh.
There were no signs of injury, though, as Murray held to 15 and then forced a flurry or errors from the world number two, opening up a two-set lead for the first time in a Grand Slam final.The crowed urged Djokovic to respond and he did – threatening in game one of the third set before making his move in game three.Murray was now starting to berate himself and voice his frustrations in the direction of his coaching team in the stand, never more so than when two backhand mistakes saw chances squandered in game six.
He then fell a double-break down thanks to an incredible backhand on to the baseline from Djokovic, who easily closed out the set.Djokovic looked revitalised, Murray weary, and the right-hander from Belgrade swiftly found himself 2-0 up in the fourth set.Just when it seemed Murray might respond, Djokovic was called for a time violation and he angrily took his performance to a new level.When Murray’s backhand broke down again, Djokovic leapt with joy and it seemed he could become the first man since Pancho Gonzales in 1949 to rally from two sets down to win the US Open. But Murray had other ideas and made a devastating start to the decider, breaking in game one and consolidating it with some defensive play of the very highest order.
The third seed was in dreamland when Djokovic netted a forehand to hand over the double-break, only for a nervous Murray to immediately surrender one of his strikes with a timid backhand.A love service hold put Murray back on track and he advanced to within one game of victory when Djokovic netted a forehand.Murray served out the championship 79 years to the day – on the same court – that Perry won the first of eight major singles crowns.”I’m disappointed to lose, but I gave it my all,” said five-time major winner Djokovic, a friend of Murray’s and seven days younger. “I had a great opponent today. He deserved to win this Grand Slam more than anybody. I would like to congratulate him.” – BBC