Photo: Paul ZimmerAndy Murray (GBR)
Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title on Monday, at the fifth time of asking. His losses in his first four finals tied on Open era record, held by his coach Ivan Lendl.
The match was a gruelling war of attrition, lasting almost five hours, but it was Murray who held firm in the final set to clinch a 76(10) 75 26 36 62 victory and avenge his defeat at the hands of Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open semifinal.
The match started in windy conditions, similar to the conditions in which Murray played his whole semifinal and Djokovic played the first set of his. And both players appeared to be struggling to adjust their games accordingly, with each losing their first service game of the match.
Murray settled the quicker of the two and moved into a 4-2 lead following a game which contained a 54-shot rally, but the Serb fought back and forced a tiebreak. After initially falling behind, Murray pinned Djokovic back and forced some set points, which he was unable to convert. However, after Djokovic lost his serve for 10-11, Murray had a serve for the set, his sixth set point, and he took it.
The second set looked more straightforward for Murray and he had all the momentum as he raced into a 4-0 lead. However, Djokovic, the world No. 2, refused to back down and recovered both breaks of serve to level the set at 5-5 following a magnificent lob.
Murray held firm though and held his own serve to move 6-5, forcing Djokovic to serve to stay in the set. The Serb made some errors, including a seemingly straightforward smash which he put wide, and Murray was handed a set point. This time he only needed the one as, after yet another long exchange, Djokovic put a forehand wide and Murray moved two sets up.
At the start of the third set, Djokovic, the reigning men’s champion at the US Open, picked his game up at the same time as Murray’s level dropped slightly, which resulted in the Serb suddenly threatening the Murray serve. He broke in game three to move 2-1 ahead and Murray started to become frustrated. The Brit had chances to break back, which he missed, causing even more frustration, and Djokovic replied by earning a second break of serve before comfortably serving out the set to register himself on the scoreboard.
The fourth set followed much the same pattern as the third, with Djokovic breaking the Murray serve early to go 2-0 up. Murray could do nothing, it seemed, to trouble Djokovic throughout the course of the set, with his backhand, usually such a formidable weapon, not finding the target, and the Serb took the set 6-3 to level the match up at two sets all.
Murray had a stern word with himself at the changeover before the start of the final set and he came out fighting. He broke Djokovic’s serve in the first game of the deciding set before producing some sensational defensive tennis to consolidate the break by holding his own serve for 2-0. This seemed to demoralise the world No. 2 as he made more unforced errors in the next game, handing Murray a double break with a forehand into the net.
A nervous Murray could not consolidate this time though and Djokovic broke straight back for 3-1. Both players held serve to make it 4-2 and Murray had the chance to break Djokovic once more, and when the Serb sent yet another forehand into the net, Murray found himself one game away from victory. All he had to do was hold his serve, which he did, sealing his first major win 79 years to the day that Fred Perry, the last British man to win a major, won the first of his eight major victories.
Djokovic was gracious in his defeat, praising his opponent, and good friend, “I had a great opponent today. He deserved to win this Grand Slam more than anybody. I would like to congratulate him.”
Murray was delighted after finally clinching his first Grand Slam victory, “It is hard to explain. It has been a long, long journey to this point […] I am very, very happy”, and was understandably relieved that he will not have to face more questions after Grand Slam defeats about the wait that the British public had to endure for a male Grand Slam winner, “I've been reminded of that most days of my life for the last few years. It's great to have finally done it and I don't need to get asked that anymore.”
Murray is now the world No. 3, having moved above Rafael Nadal in the rankings, and said that he hopes his success “inspires some kids to play tennis”. He also commented on the current young British players and how well they have done recently, "Laura's done very well, the Olympics was great for us and Liam Broady was in the final here in the juniors," he said. "I hope it stays that way."