Andy Murray emerged from a champagne celebration of his first Grand Slam triumph and immediately set his sights on becoming the world No1.
Roger Federer, who has 16 more Slam titles than Murray, holds that lofty position but the Swiss master will recognise that, having ended Britain’s 76-year wait to match Fred Perry’s 1936 victory in New York, the Scot is now a fully-fledged member of the game’s elite.
Murray knows he must match Federer’s consistency to become No1 but it is a realistic target after his historic 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 US Open final defeat of Novak Djokovic, a player he first faced as an 11-year-old.
This time they looked across the net on the biggest court in tennis and it was Djokovic, a former No1 and winner of five Slams, who had to give way in an epic battle lasting six minutes shy of five hours.
Murray, up to No3 in the rankings, can now plan his assault on more Grand Slam titles in an era of four outstanding players completed by the injured Rafael Nadal.
Murray, who at 15 went to train in Spain on Nadal’s advice, believes by removing a huge millstone from his neck he can try to be as successful as Perry, an eight-times major winner.
Who knows, he may even receive a knighthood having joined Sir Chris Hoy as a Scottish sporting icon.
Since he succeeded Tim Henman as British No1 Murray has endured endless questions about whether he would win a Grand Slam. So what does it feel like to have finally ended the wait?
“It’s something that hasn’t happened for a long time in our country and I’m proud that I managed to achieve it, and I don’t have to get asked that stupid question again,” Murray said.
“I never got to meet Fred Perry but I’m sure he’s smiling from up there that someone has finally managed to do it from Britain. I just hope I can see another British player in my lifetime win a Grand Slam.”
Murray will have a short break before starting his training programme with coach Ivan Lendl for the upcoming Asia series of tournaments.
Lendl, who like Murray lost four Slam finals before winning his first, has been a key addition to Team Murray and will keep his player’s feet on the ground.
Murray said: “Once you get near to the top of the game, one of the goals is to try to get to world No1.
“I can’t say this year it’s possible for me to do it because I didn’t have a particularly good clay court season and I didn’t do well in the Masters Series in Cincinnati and Montreal and also in Indian Wells.
“I had too many losses early in those tournaments but making No1 is the next step and to do that I need to be consistent throughout the whole year. It’s something Novak and Roger and Rafa have done incredibly well over the last few years.” Murray has also been coached by Mark Petchey, Brad Gilbert, Alex Corretja and Miles Maclagan and admits he was his own worst enemy before Lendl came along last December. He said: “I always listened to my coaches but I was very immature sometimes on the court. I have tried to improve that side of things.
“Now, I’ve proved I can win the Grand Slams and if I get into situations like this in the future I won’t be having all the doubts that I was having before this match. I was thinking, ‘If I lose this one, no one’s ever lost their first five finals.’ I didn’t want to be that person.
“I’ll be a little more confident because I’ve learned not to doubt myself physically and mentally from now on. I’m sure that will have a positive impact in the future. I saw all of the guys in the locker room afterwards and Ivan just said, ‘I’m proud of you. Well done.’
“We had a hug and then someone sprayed champagne all down my back and over him. That kind of ended it because Ivan started swearing.
“Ivan has definitely helped me and I have enjoyed working with him. I have listened to him a lot and, for any player, having him in your corner would be a big bonus.
“He was one of the most successful tennis players of all time and I’m sure it gave a little boost to his ego that I won after just nine months with him.Yes, I cried a little bit on the court. But it isn’t because you’re sad — you’re incredibly happy. It was in a little bit of disbelief because when I’ve been in that position many times before and not won, you do wonder if it is ever going to happen for you. I am relieved to have got over that last hurdle.”
Djokovic, winner of this year’s Australian Open, was gracious in losing his US Open crown and predicted more Grand Slam titles for this friend.
The Sebian world No2 said: “Any loss is a bad loss and I am disappointed but he deserved to win this Slam having lost four finals and I want to congratulate him and I am happy for Andy. I gave it my all and that is always the goal.
“I was struggling in the fifth and all I could do was go for my shots — it worked and I won last year but that’s sport.”