Magic Murray finally does it

11 September 2012 / 06:16

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 wind was the dominant factor in the early stages as the pair exchanged breaks but Murray was dealing with it better and he moved 4-2 ahead only for Djokovic to fight back. The rallies got ever longer and more intense and a tie-break was needed to separate them. It was only the second set Murray had ever won in a grand slam final.

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. But Murray held for 6-5 and in the next game Djokovic missed a smash to hand his opponent two set points. A wide forehand from Djokovic sealed it for Murray.

Murray 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 taking the set. Murray badly needed a good start to the fourth set but he did not get it, the Scot's forehand beginning to regularly find the net as Djokovic broke through again to level the match.

No one had come back from two sets down to win the US Open since Pancho Gonzalez in 1949 but Djokovic had both momentum and experience on his side. However, there was a twist at the start of the decider when Murray got a bit of luck with a net cord and a potentially crucial break. The 25-year-old then showed defensive skills worthy of his opponent to hold for 2-0.

Suddenly Djokovic looked weary and Murray was half way there when the Serb netted a simple forehand to hand his opponent a second straight break. He had, of course, been in a similar position in the second set only for Djokovic to hit back, and it was deja vu as the Serb pulled one break back straight away.

It was torture for both players' supporters, but some brilliant serving from Murray gave him breathing space, and then suddenly he was a game away. After four hours and 54 minutes, the joint longest US Open final in history, Murray had done it, sinking to his knees in delight, disbelief and sheer exhaustion as his family and friends hugged each other and cried. Even Lendl smiled, just about.