After winning the gold medal in London, it seemed like this was the year Andy Murray finally comes through on his Grand Slam promise. After five topsy turvy hours inside the Arthur Ashe stadium against a stubborn and never ending Novak Djokovic, the 25 year old Scot won his first major, becoming the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to do it.
There were one, two, three and more story-lines in an epic US Open final, which began with rather poor quality, as both players struggled to cope with the rough conditions and strong winds. Novak Djokovic, with less feet movement, seemed to be much more troubled by everything going on around them. Murray showed that mental toughness isn’t going to be a problem for him on the day, coming back from 3-5 down in the first set tiebreak to win 7-6, followed by a 7-5 win of the second set.
Novak Djokovic, if anyone forgot, is the current master of two set comebacks. And so it was. Andy Murray’s footing and thinking failed him, while Djokovic started hitting his first serve (75% in the third set, 83% in the second set), turning the match on its head with a 6-2, 6-3 comeback in the third and fourth sets. Fifth set showdown, like Grand Slam finals should be.
It was all Murray in it. Murray already settled back in the match during the fourth set, and he simply had more in him when the fifth set began. Beyond all of Djokovic’s regular antics of grunting, sliding and exaggerating his injury moments, cramps that began early in the fifth got worse and worse, while Murray looked as fresh as he did two and three hours ago. The first serve stopped failing him; his perfect match and play reading came back. Novak Djokovic faded away while Murray stayed solid and strong, with only one goal in sight.
It came down to Djokovic trying what he did against Federer 12 months ago – Simply hitting with everything he had, trying to avoid the fate of losing a Grand Slam final for the second time in three months. His body couldn’t carry him that far, and he simply hit it too long time and time again. Andy Murray knew it was over before the final game began, and he hardly needed to do anything to win the fifth set, looking calm and composed, 6-2.
Celebrations? Murray seems more emotional when he loses. The gold medal in front of the Wimbledon crowd in the Olympics took a bit of the edge off. Like he was prepared for this to happen. He looked the part at least. Finally, the burden, the shackles, the weight of expectations are off. With Murray enjoying the biggest moment of his tennis career, the question now being asked is it the start of a new era in tennis, with Murray and Djokovic pulling us forward?