Andy Murray caps superb summer of British sport with stunning US Open triumph

Scot ends 76-year wait for male Slam success after being pushed to the limit by Djokovic in five-hour New York final

The wait is over. Seventy-six years after Fred Perry became the last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title with his victory just down the road from here at Forest Hills, Andy Murray achieved his lifetime’s ambition at Flushing Meadows last night when he won the US Open.

Just like his coach, Ivan Lendl, the 25-year-old Scot put his past disappointments behind him to win a Grand Slam final at the fifth attempt, beating Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after a match of the highest drama that lasted four hours and 54 minutes.

There could not be a more deserving champion. Murray has worked tirelessly to reach his goal in an era dominated by two of the greatest players in history in the shape of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and, in more recent times, by a man who may also eventually be regarded as one of the sport’s legends. The fact that Djokovic had won four of the previous seven Grand Slam tournaments, including the last three played on hard courts, underlined the magnitude of Murray’s achievement.

The Serb had also won both his previous Grand Slam matches against Murray, his friend and rival ever since they first met at an under-12s tournament, and threatened to make an outrageous comeback when he fought back from two sets down, but for the most part it was Murray who dealt better with the difficult conditions as a gusting wind swirled around the cavernous 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe stadium.

Ever since he lost the Wimbledon final two months ago, there has been an irresistible sense of purpose about the man from Dunblane. Murray won gold at the Olympics with a controlled aggression that had sometimes been lacking in his game in the past and has been brimming with confidence ever since.

In becoming the first British man to reach a Wimbledon singles final for 74 years, the first to win a tennis gold medal for 104 years and now the first to win a Grand Slam singles title in 288 tournaments, Murray has defied the weight of history which has helped to crush the ambitions of so many of his fellow countrymen in the past.

Although the conditions were not as extreme as they had been during Murray’s semi-final victory over Tomas Berdych, when the wind even blew the players’ chairs on to the court, both men had to adjust their games. They were frequently forced to delay or abort their serves and both used more slice than normal. Playing into the wind from one end must have felt like facing two opponents. Both made many more unforced errors than winners, but given the conditions the word “unforced” was barely appropriate.

After a fortnight of uncomfortably hot and humid weather, it felt almost autumnal as the players entered the stadium in bright sunshine. Lendl, in a bright red sweatshirt, came prepared, while Sir Sean Connery, Murray’s fellow Scot, wore a jacket, sunglasses and straw hat.

Among the other celebrities present were the actors Kevin Spacey, who had enjoyed a hit with Lendl during Murray’s practice session earlier in the day, and Patrick Stewart. Donald Trump appeared to be sitting steadfastly still in the hope that the wind would not catch his hair, while Sir Alex Ferguson joined Murray’s entourage halfway through the first set, glancing at his watch and looking around as if searching for a referee to complain about time-keeping.

Both players – but Djokovic in particular - took time to adjust to the conditions. With both playing cautiously, there were some exceptionally long rallies, including one of 55 shots in the sixth game. Djokovic lost the first seven points on his own serve and Murray the first three on his as both men were broken in their opening service games. At 2-2 Djokovic, having saved four break points two games earlier, was broken for a second time after serving two double faults. At the changeover the Serb smacked his racket into his chair in anger.

With Murray leading 4-3, however, Djokovic broke back and the set went to a tie-break. Djokovic led 5-3, but Murray dominated thereafter. After Djokovic had saved four set points, the last of them after a 33-stroke rally, Murray decided it was time to up the ante by going for his shots. At 10-10 Djokovic sent a backhand long under attack from the Scot, who finally took the set after 87 minutes when the defending champion was unable to return serve.

In all but the very first of the 14 previous meetings between these two men, the player who won the first set had gone on to win the match. Judging by his play at the start of the second set, it was as if Djokovic was all too aware of that statistic as Murray raced into a 4-0 lead. However, Djokovic broke both in the next game and again two games later, the Scot ballooning a forehand long on break point as a gust of wind took control of the ball.

Nevertheless, the new world No 3 regrouped and when Djokovic served at 5-6 and 15-30 the Serb put a smash wide. On the first break point Murray put a return of serve into the net, but on the second Djokovic hit a forehand into the tramlines.

It had been 63 years since Pancho Gonzales became the last man to win this title from two sets down, but Djokovic has an excellent five-set record and the Serb responded magnificently to the challenge. As Murray’s level dipped, Djokovic began to play with more fire. Attacking the Scot’s serve at every opportunity, he took the third set in just 46 minutes.

Djokovic again made the early break in the fourth, but now it was Murray’s turn to respond as the two men threw everything they could at each other. One 30-shot exchange ended with Djokovic sprawled on the floor and the crowd on their feet as Murray thumped a forehand winner. However when the Scot served at 3-5, a double fault and three successive errors saw Djokovic level the match.

Murray landed the first blows in the final set shoot-out, breaking twice to lead 3-0, only for Djokovic to bring the score back to 3-2. Murray broke again to lead 5-2, after which Djokovic, to boos from the crowd, took a medical time-out to have his legs massaged. The Scot, however, was not to be denied and served out for victory, converting his second championship point when Djokovic hit a return long. Rarely can a maiden Grand Slam triumph have been as richly deserved or as hard-earned.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone