No hurry for Murray at US Open
Tennis:At the fifth time of asking and in the most dramatic way possible, Andy Murray became a grand slam champion. After winning the first two sets of the US Open final against Novak Djokovic, it looked like another chance was slipping through the Scot’s fingers when the 2011 champion forced a decider but Murray came through 7-6 (12/10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2.
In a twist of fate, Murray’s victory came 79 years to the day since Fred Perry won his first grand slam title at the US Open and ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a men’s singles grand slam champion.
The 25-year-old also became the first man in history to win Olympic singles gold and the US Open in the same year and emulated coach Ivan Lendl in winning his first grand slam trophy at his fifth attempt.
The final was put back a day for the fifth straight year because of bad weather on Saturday, when Murray had coped well in almost unplayable conditions while Djokovic had not before his match against David Ferrer was suspended.
The wind was certainly the dominant factor in the early stages as the pair exchanged breaks but Murray was again dealing with it better and he moved 4-2 ahead only for Djokovic to fight back.
The James Bond theme played as Sir Sean Connery was shown on the big screen while Sir Alex Ferguson also arrived, with the Manchester United manager sitting in Murray’s box. The two Scottish knights had gate-crashed Murray’s press conference on Friday to congratulate their countryman, and he certainly needed the support now.
The rallies got ever longer and more intense and a tie-break was needed to separate them, which turned out to be suitably epic. Murray was playing catch-up all the way until he had the first set point at 6-5, which Djokovic saved with a gutsy smash.
It was a pattern that was to become all too familiar as four more times Murray created set point only to miss his opportunity before, on the sixth chance a serve did not come back. It was only the second set Murray had ever won in a grand slam final and, like the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, it was the opening set he took.
He went on to lose the next three that day but Djokovic was rattled and Murray reeled off four games in a row at the start of the second set. The Serb retrieved one break immediately, which seemed a minor detail until Murray faltered serving for the set and was broken again.
It was a big blow after he had held such a commanding lead, and Djokovic was now well and truly out of his slump and pushing to level the match. But Murray held for 6-5, celebrating with a yell of ‘come on’, and it proved a key moment when in the next game Djokovic missed a smash to hand his opponent two set points.
Arthur Ashe roared and, although he saved one with a good serve, a forehand wide sealed it for Murray. This was now uncharted territory but there was still an awfully long way to go, with Djokovic having demonstrated his ability to come back from seemingly impossible positions many times in the last two years.
Murray also has a tendency to dip at the start of third sets and, although he got out of jail in the first game, in the third he could not prevent Djokovic breaking through. The Scot had his chance to hit back in the sixth game but Djokovic saved two break points, roaring himself on.