In one of the most emotional and enthralling Grand Slam finals in recent memory, Andy Murray earned his first ever major title, and the first from a player from the United Kingdom since Fred Perry in 1936, by beating second-seed Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open on Monday night.
Andy Murray was excited following an epic first set win.
In windy conditions at Flushing Meadows, Murray was able to fight off a determined effort from the defending champion in the longest match in U.S. Open title history (four hours and 54 minutes), 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2.
"I've had some really long, tough matches in the past with [Djokovic] and just managed to get through," said Murray.
Serving for the win, the Scottish star reacted with surreal appreciation when Djokovic's final shot went long. Murray would walk around the court in somewhat of a haze to the roaring crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
After breaking Djokovic's serve for the second time in the fifth set, Murray walked to his chair expressionless, not acknowledging that a historic victory was firmly in his grasp.
Indeed, Murray's trepidation about a premature celebration was wise, as Djokovic would battle back with a break. Djokovic decided to serve and volley at one point in the fifth game. It was the first of the match, as both baseline players wailed on the ball for nearly five hours and likely surprised Murray.
It was a gut-wrenching effort for both men, and neither appeared ready to concede anything. After a tremendous sequence of shots in the fifth set, Djokovic pumped his fists in a rare show of elation. The normally excitable tennis star showed less emotion than he usually does, which is likely a testament to his opponent's resilience and the gravity of the match.
Murray was also seen pumping his fist with confidence as he sensed his first title was just minutes away, and as Djokovic was battling leg cramps with the score 5-2. Djokovic received treatment, but he didn't seem to fully recover.
The final statistic accurately displayed the tightness of the match. Djokovic served seven aces, while Murray had five. Murray hit 31 winners compared to 40 from Djokovic. Even the unforced errors were close, as Djokovic had 65 and Murray had 56.
The match was exciting from the start, as Murray won the first-set tie-breaker 12-10.
The first set lasted one hour and 27 minutes and was filled with riveting moments. At one point, a feverish exchange in the service box resulted with Murray hitting a passing shot about a foot wide, and the Scot would immediately pound his strings in frustration with his wrist as he fell to a triple-break point.
Murray would win the next point, but Djokovic would win the game on the ensuing point despite Murray's hustling efforts to return multiple overheads from the hard-hitting Serb.
In the first-set tie-breaker, Djokovic handed Murray a chance to win the set with a careless ground stroke that went long. Murray failed to take advantage of it, as the following point saw him rip a routine approach shot into the net.
"This is unbelievable," said broadcaster and tennis legend John McEnroe, following a rally that had 33 shots and ended with Murray lobbing a ball wide over Djokovic.
The first-set tie-breaker would go to Murray after 24 minutes of exhausting tennis. Each point seemed to be hotly contested, as defensive tennis was the motif of the day.
Murray would win the second set, due in part to his superb defense, and steady play. The gold-medal win at the London Games appeared to be carrying over to New York.
But Djokovic would storm back. The Serbian star would win the following two sets. Murray would try to hold off Djokovic's determined effort, but Djokovic was simply too dominate in the third and fourth set.
Fans in attendance seemed to know immediately that they were watching a historic match.
"It was one of the most amazing things you will see in this sport," said McEnroe, as the match was in its final game.
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