Murray wins first Slam title at US Open
Andy Murray exorcised his own personal demons and lifted a 76-year-old British curse by winning the U.S. Open championship Monday night.
On a windy, chilly night inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Murray’s 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory over defending champion Novak Djokovic in the men’s final gave Murray the first major of his career and Britain’s first since Fred Perry won the U.S. Championships in 1936.
The epic contest lasted four hours and 54 minutes, tying the longest men’s final in U.S. Open history.
When Djokovic smacked a forehand long on the second match point, Murray crouched near the baseline and covered his face with his hands. He was soon crying tears of joy and later lifting the U.S. Open trophy.
“I don’t know [how I did it],” Murray, who picked up a winner’s check of $1.9 million, said on court after the match. “I mean, it was incredibly tricky conditions.
“After the third and fourth sets it was tough mentally for me. Novak is so so strong; he fights until the end in every single match. I’ve had some really long, tough matches with him in the past and just managed to get through.”
The loss snapped a 27-match winning streak in Grand Slam hardcourt matches for Djokovic. Djokovic had also won his last eight five-set matches.
Murray’s victory marked the first time since the 2009 U.S. Open won by Juan Martin Del Potro that someone other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic had won a major. Those three have now won 29 of the last 31 Grand Slams.
“Well, it wasn’t to be but I want to congratulate Andy for his first Grand Slam,” said Djokovic, winner of five majors, including the Australian Open this year where he beat Murray in the semis. “He absolutely deserves it.”
Murray, a 25-year-old Scot, had been 0-4 in major finals, including the 2008 U.S. Open final, which he lost to Federer.
But he gained tremendous confidence from winning the Olympics at Wimbledon — beating Djokovic in the semifinals and Federer in the final.
Depending on how the rest of the year goes, Murray could make an argument for Player of the Year honors. He reached the Wimbledon final, won the Olympics and now owns the U.S. Open trophy.
Murray’s career trajectory parallels that of his coach Ivan Lendl, who lost his first four Grand Slam finals before coming back from two sets to love down against John McEnroe to win the 1984 French Open. Lendl finished his Hall of Fame career with eight major titles.
The CBS cameras flashed to Lendl barely cracking a smile in Murray’s player box after the match and Murray gave him his due.
“I think that was almost a smile,” he joked.
“He’s one of the great players to ever play. I think he made eight consecutive finals. It’s great to have him supporting me and helping me in the tough moments. And not just him but everyone else, so thanks to everyone.”
Murray seized control of the match by taking the longest tiebreak in the history of the men’s final in the first set, finally taking it on the sixth set point with a 117-mph service winner.
After he took the second set, Murray seemed firmly in control and on his way to that coveted first major.
But Djokovic found new life, winning the third and fourth sets to even the match.
Murray seemed to find a new calm as the fifth set began. He broke Djkokovic twice in the first three games for a 3-0 lead.
Djokovic got one break back, but surrendered it when he smacked a forehand into the net to give Murray a commanding 5-2 edge.
Djokovic received treatment for a groin strain after that game, drawing some boos from the crowd.
After Murray jumped out to a 40-0 lead on his serve, Djokovic saved one match point before smacking a forehand long on the second.
And with that, history was made and Murray broke through into the elite club that he waited so long to enter.
“I really tried my best,” Djokovic said. “I gave it all and it was another tremendous match to be part of finals of Grand Slam.”
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for more from the U.S. Open.