Andy Murray has become the first male British tennis player to win a Grand Slam title for 76 years at Flushing Meadows in New York in a five set thriller – overcoming Novak Djokovic to win the US Open final.
The 25 year-old Scot emulated the legendary Fred Perry’s 1936 win at the same venue – winning 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in four hours and 54 minutes at the famous Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Murray, now the world number three, had previously lost four Grand Slam finals, sharing an unenviable Open-era record with his coach Ivan Lendl. But like his Czech coach and mentor he overcame his Grand Slam hoodoo at the fifth time of asking.
Murray may well have been helped psychologically by his Olympic 2012 victory in the summer Olympics at Wimbledon, having suffered a bravely fought and emotional defeat there just weeks earlier at the hands of world number one Roger Federer in what was his fourth Grand Slam final.
Whatever the reason, the British number one finally laid his Grand Slam ghost to rest in the world’s biggest tennis arena.
The changeable wind made for difficult conditions for both players and it was Murray who seemed to cope better in the early stages. The pair exchanged early breaks before Murray broke serve again to move into a 4-2 lead in the first set after a thrilling game which included a 54-shot rally.
But Djokovic fought back to force a nail-biter of a tie-break that the British player eventually won 12-10 to take a set that had lasted 87 minutes.
Murray then seemed buoyed by his hard-fought tie-break, breaking Djokovic twice to take a comfortable 4-0 lead. It seemed the second set would be a walk-over, but Djokovic never knows when he’s beaten and fought back gamely to 5-5, before Murray went on to win 7-5 and take a two set lead for the first time ever in a Grand Slam final.
But the third set didn’t go according to the script for Murray who had seen off Djokovic in straight sets in the Olympic semi-final.
He squandered chances, went two breaks down and seemed frustrated and out of sorts as his Serbian opponent went on to make it 2-1 with relative ease, winning the third set 6-2. With the impetus behind him, Djokovic quickly found himself 2-0 up in the fourth set which he went on to win 6-3 quite comfortably. It now seemed like the Serb could become the first man since Gonzales in 1949 to come from two sets down to win a US Open.
But Murray clearly had other plans and made a strong start in the final set, breaking Djokovic in the opening game. The Scot then held serve and broke again in the third as Djokovic netted a forehand. But it wasn’t to be plain sailing as Djokovic got a break back. But a strong service put Murray on the road to victory and he managed to old serve to take the final set 6-2, exactly 79 years to the day since Fred Perry won his first Grand Slam in what was probably the most memorable day of all time for British tennis.