Many of the questions Andy Murray faced in previous Grand Slam tournaments were finally answered on Monday night. Murray finally claimed his long-sought Grand Slam singles title. Even better, he did it against one of the best players in the world.
Murray took down defending U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic in a five set thriller, winning the final match of the 2012 U.S. Open 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2. It is Murray's first career Grand Slam singles title and it offers concrete proof he has finally realized his potential as a tennis player.
It felt inevitable that Murray would eventually breakthrough in one of the four Grand Slam tournaments after he left the 2012 London Olympics with a gold medal in men's singles. Murray had previously reached the final match in a Grand Slam tournament four other times. Those other trips had ended in disappointing fashion, with Murray winning a grand total of one set.
Winning the Olympic gold medal helped Murray clear a mental hurdle. His confidence grew to new heights from taking down players in London who had blocked his path to victory in previous Grand Slam tournaments.
Everything felt different this time around once Murray prevailed in the first set tiebreaker. He mounted an impressive rally with Djokovic leading 5-2 in the tiebreak, running off four straight points to take the lead. The two players traded blows and Murray went through six set points before finally winning the tiebreaker and the set.
His ability to withstand Djokovic's rallies served Murray well throughout the match. Murray had to hold off a charge from Djokovic in the second set after taking a 4-0 lead. And he worked to regain momentum after the Serbian ran off back-to-back set victories to force a decisive fifth set.
Djokovic seemingly had the edge after the third and fourth sets. He settled into a nice rhythm with his powerful groundstrokes and appeared poised to deliver heartbreak to Murray and Great Britain again. Murray did not fall into the trap set for him.
He kept control of his nerves and raced out to a 3-0 lead in the final set. Murray broke Djokovic's serve three times in that final set and won comfortably compared to previous two sets. He finally survived a match lasting nearly five hours, even while complaining that his legs felt like jelly after the fourth set.
Perhaps the best part of Murray's victory is that it puts the long chapter of British futility in Grand Slam tournaments to rest. Murray broke a 76 year drought that stretched from Fred Perry's last major title in 1936 until Monday. He no longer carries the burden of an entire nation on his shoulders.
For Murray, losing that burden could open the floodgates. There's no reason to feel immense pressure when he reaches a Grand Slam final going forward, because he knows he can win it all. There is no guarantee Murray will add to his Grand Slam tally. Being a one-slam wonder, however, would still beat not winning one at all.
Murray no longer has to deal with the disappointment of simply coming close. Winning the U.S. Open puts Murray and his tennis career in a whole new light.
John Coon has covered tennis at all levels as a sports reporter based in Salt Lake City. Coon was raised in a tennis loving family. All three of his sisters played competitively and he enjoys playing at a recreational level.
- Sports & Recreation
- Andy Murray
- Grand Slam tournaments