When the torrent of books about this bedazzling sporting summer begins to flow, few will spare so much as a footnote for the heavyweight grudge match at Upton Park on July 14. More luminous achievements than David Haye's knockout of Dereck Chisora were buried in obscurity beneath the avalanche of glory.
Yet for this writer, the Upton Park mash-up sits atop the memorial pantheon beside Wiggo's Tour de France, Mo's double gold and the dénouement in th e early hours of yesterday to five relaxing hours of tennis in New York. One hates to muscle in on another's triumph on arguably tenuous grounds. But it was there in east London, that sodden Saturday night, that I informed Andy Murray, sitting ringside beneath a Cellophane sheet, of the overwhelming feeling in my bones that he would win the 2012 US Open.
Although (off-court) the sweetest and most courteous of young men – he didn't seem wildly impressed with the prediction. Yet who can say for certain that the memory of howsoever deranged a megafan's faith in him didn't make the difference as he entered the fifth set? Grinner Lendl, mother Judy and others in the entourage also take some credit for bolstering his self-belief. But publishers wishing to bid for a memoir, on the lines of Spike Milligan's Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall, may contact me via this newspaper.
In the event, Murray didn't deploy the Taser, though you might not have guessed from the cramping, wobbly-legged Novak Djokovic of the closing games. How the spent-looking Scot found the mental strength, after having his two-set lead torn from him by the most ferociously resilient figure in sport, I will never understand. Nor will he. If the closely contested Grand Slam final has no equal for sustained, excruciating stress, no tennis player can ever have endured the pressure Murray must have felt as he came out for that final set, knowing he would never recover from the disappointment and resulting sense of accursedness if he lost it.
I cannot honestly describe watching this match as an unmitigated delight for the co-occupant of the sofa and myself. This friend and I have followed Murray obsessively for seven years, barely missing a televised match since he emerged at 18 as a potential talent for the ages. When he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach this year's Wimbledon final, I sobbed down the phone at my friend: "God, I love that boy. I've watched him grow up, he's like a son to me." A delicate cough announced the presence of a startled biological son. Despite being reassured that, having had him for 15 years and Andy for only seven, he is my firstborn, he hasn't forgiven me yet, and never will.
When late in the fourth set, the match apparently lost, the boy did what great champions do. As he stared into the abyss, instead of developing vertigo he soared above his previous limitations and decisively raised his game.
And with that, on a note of indecent perfection, endeth the Summer of Sport. Murray should now win several more majors, as Mo will win more medals and Wiggo more Tours, but the confluence of outlandish heroism under an incalculable weight of a ravenous country's expectations will never be repeated.Reuse content