Andy Murray says 'relief is probably the best word' after winning US Open with victory over Novak Djokovic

 

There was one word that summed up for Andy Murray the realisation of a dream that he feared may never come - relief.

The Scot defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12/10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in the US Open final on Monday night to finally win his first grand slam title at the fifth time of asking - and become the first British man to land a singles crown at one of the four majors since Fred Perry in 1936.

It was somehow fitting that the match was a rollercoaster, mirroring the journey Murray has taken to get here, as at one stage he looked poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 25-year-old said: "It was an incredibly tough match and obviously it felt great at the end. Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I'm feeling just now.

"I'm very, very happy that I managed to come through because if I had lost this one from two sets up, that would have been a tough one to take.

"I was still doubting myself right up to a few minutes before going on to play the match. It's something I have never done before. I have been in this position many times and not managed to get through.

"I am just so relieved to finally have got there and I can put this one behind me and hopefully win more.

"I think just proving it to myself is probably the most pleasing part about tonight, because there were times when I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it."

It was a match that really had everything. In windy conditions, Murray was twice a break up in the opening set before finally clinching it on his sixth set point.

He then let a 4-0 lead slip away in the second but still came out on top to move to within one set of victory against a man who had not lost a grand slam match on a hard court for two years.

But Djokovic was not about to give up his crown without a fight and, as Murray got nervous, the Serb upped his game, drawing level and carrying the momentum into the fifth set.

The start of the decider was crucial and a little surprisingly it was Djokovic who faltered, trailing 3-0 and then giving away another break to leave Murray one game away.

The Serb was struggling physically, understandably after almost five hours, and he was booed by the raucous crowd as he took a medical timeout.

But Murray did not waver, setting up three match points and taking the second when Djokovic fired a make-or-break return long.

The victory came nine weeks after Murray cried on Centre Court following his loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final and four weeks after he gained revenge over the world number one on the same court to win Olympic gold.

Murray became the first man to win both the Olympic singles title and the US Open in the same year, and he did not allow thoughts of his previous disappointments to creep in even when the third and fourth sets had slipped away.

He said: "I went to the toilet after the fourth set and just had a think and said, 'It's just one more set. Give everything. You don't want to come off this court with any regrets. Don't get too down on yourself. Just try and fight'.

"I got a bit fortunate to get the break at the beginning of the set, and that helped."

While Murray tried to take in his achievement, his friends and family and the team he has worked with for most of his professional career cried and hugged each other.

It famously takes a lot to make the Scot smile in public, and even winning a first grand slam title did not have him beaming from ear to ear, for which he jokingly blamed coach Ivan Lendl, nicknamed Stoneface during his playing days for his lack of emotion.

Murray said: "I think everyone is just in a little bit of shock that it's happened. I've seen my mum after I have lost in slam finals and stuff, and she's been really upset.

"Everyone is really, really happy, I think we're sort of learning from Lendl a little bit.

"I saw all of the guys in the locker room afterwards and I saw him. He just said, 'I'm proud of you, well done.' We had a hug. Then someone sprayed champagne all down my back and over him. That kind of ended that. He started swearing."

Murray hired Lendl at the end of last year in the hope it would give him that extra edge to turn him into a grand slam champion, and he joined the 52-year-old in winning a slam title at the fifth attempt.

There have been technical improvements, most noticeably his forehand and second serve, but the main difference has been the mental steel and belief that Lendl appears to have instilled in his charge.

"I have enjoyed working with him," said Murray. "I have listened to him a lot. He's definitely, definitely helped. Having him in your corner for any player would be a big bonus.

"Not many guys who have won as much as he did want to go into coaching or want to be around tennis.

"I'm sure it gave a little boost to his ego tonight that I won. It's been great so far and I hope we can keep working well together."

Murray's triumph also finally put to bed Britain's 76-year wait for a men's grand slam singles champion.

By coincidence, or perhaps fate, it was 79 years to the day since Perry won the first of his titles, at the US Open, in a match where the third seed beat the second seed.

Barely a press conference has gone by when Murray was not asked about carrying the weight of history, and he was happy to finally be rid of "that stupid question".

He did admit, though, that it had entered his head on court, saying: "When you're on the court, you don't necessarily feel it, but I know when I was serving for the match, there's a sense of how big a moment that is in British tennis history.

"So that obviously adds to it. I have been asked about it many times when I got close to winning grand slams before. I got asked about it more and more even after I won the Olympics.

"So it's great to have finally done it, and I hope now it inspires some kids to play tennis and also takes away the notion that British tennis players choke or don't win or it's not a good sport."

He added of Perry, who died in 1995: "I'm sure he's smiling from up there that someone has finally managed to do it from Britain. I hope I can see another British player in my lifetime win a grand slam."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices