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Djokovic Welcomes Murray to Grand Slam Club

Murray Ends Drought For Brits, Wins First Major After 76 Years

Photo from telegraph.co.uk

September 11 2012 Beeyong Sison - “He will win at least one Grand Slam soon,” said Roger Federer about his teary-eyed opponent during the trophy presentation at Wimbledon finals last July 8. It was a bold prediction coming from the 17-time Grand Slam Champion.

 

What a difference two months and two days make. After winning the Gold Medal at the London Olympics held in Wimbledon on August 5, Great Britain's Andy Murray made history Monday night by winning his first career Grand Slam crown at the US Open in Flushing Meadows outlasting defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6(10) 7-5, 2-6, 3-6 6-2 in a compelling high-quality 4-hour-54 minute-long final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

With the victory, Murray finally ended a 76-year drought becoming the first British player to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry did it last in 1936, also at the US Open.

 
The men's championship final had to be moved to Monday for the fifth straight year due to inclement weather including threats of tornado over the weekend.  Both players had to contend with gusty and swirling winds at the Arthur Ashe Stadium that tested their nerves, patience, fitness, and mental toughness. But despite the harsh elements, the final still produced one of most entertaining matches ever played in US Open history tying the record for the longest US Open final.

The epic match consistently came-up with remarkable rallies which at one point required both players to hit 56 shots to decide a winner, including a 30-shot-exchange in the fourth set ending with a forehand pass from Murray that sent Djokovic falling down on his knees - earning thunderous standing ovation from the crowd.  

 

Both players had so much difficulty adjusting to incessant winds that four of the first eights games of the match were won on service breaks. It was Murray who held steady winning the 22-point first set tiebreak 12-10 after squandering 5 set-points. 

In the second set, the 25-year old Scot raced to a 4-0 lead but Djokovic leveled at 5-all before Murray broke Djokovic's serve to take a 2-0 set lead. The third and fourth sets were all Djokovic as the five time Grand Slam winner adjusted his game with aggressive net plays winning 6-2 and 6-3 respectively. Having spent so much energy tying the match at 2-sets-all, Djokovic lost his first two service games in the fifth set going down 0-3. 

Mustering another burst of energy, Djokovic broke Murray's serve on the fourth game and then held his own to keep the match on sight. With Murray serving at 3-2, the first four points saw Djokovic taking the momentum back to his side but at 30-all, Murray suddenly elevated his game and produced two consecutive service winners, with one clocked at 131 mph, to hold for a 4-2 lead.

Needing more separation and sensing his opponent having problems with leg stiffness, Murray held steady to break again for a 5-2 lead. Djokovic clearly was having pain and needed a trainer during the change-over to soothe his cramping legs eliciting some boos from the crowd. Murray kept warm by hopping, springing, and throwing balls to the wall before resuming to serve.

Murray's solid serves immediately took him to 40-love and three championship points. Djokovic saved one match point but on the second, Djokovic hit the return so hard it sailed long at such a fast paced that stunned Murray momentarily not believing that match had ended.

 

Murray went to his knees and covered his mouth as the tears started flowing. As he got up and took a few steps, Djokovic came around the net to congratulate him and received a well-deserved winners hug. 

 

The Serbian clearly was very disappointed to lose the match but he was pleased to welcome his childhood friend to finally become a member of the Grand Slam club. Murray can now be fully accepted as one of the Four Musketeers, joining Roger Federer (17), Rafael Nadal (11), Novak Djokovic (5), for having finally won a Grand Slam title.

During the trophy presentation, Djokovic said Murray has been a top player and added, "he has been so close losing four Grand Slam finals. Now he has won it, so I would like to congratulate him. I am happy that he won."

 

Murray is only one of two players to lose their first four finals before winning a major title since the Open era began in 1968. The other player is tennis great and Murray's current coach former World No.1 Ivan Lendl - beaming proudly behind in the stands.

 

Match Notes:

 

Djokovic still has a career match edge 8-7 against Murray... Murray last played Djokovic in the semifinals at the London Olympics prevailing 7-5, 7-5 before beating Roger Federer for the Gold Medal. Their last Grand Slam match came in the semifinals of Australian Open last January with Djokovic winning in five sets before copping his fifth major title... Two famous Scots saw their countryman lift the US Open trophy Monday night in New York - actor Sean Connery and Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United...Born only a week apart in May 1987, Murray and Djokovic have known and competed with each other since they were 11 years old...Before Saturday's semifinals in New York, they sat down and shared a computer to watch a live-stream World Cup Soccer Qualifying match between Scotland and Serbia.

 

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