Murray mints it at US Open…

16 09 2012

‘When I realised I had won. I was a little bit shocked. I was very relieved and I was very emotional.’

‘They were incredibly tricky conditions. Novak is so strong, he fights until the end of every match and I don’t know how I managed to come through in the end.’

‘It’s been a lot of years of hard work and a lot of tough losses to finally come through especially in a match like that.’

‘I’m glad that I did it for myself last night but also for the country and we can move on – I hope it’s not another 76 year wait.’   

Andy Murray – US Open Champion 2012

It all happened rather too late for Tuesday’s papers, already overflowing with British sporting triumphalism as our Olympian and Paralympian heroes took one final bow on their open top parade through the host city of the 2012 Games.

On the same day that London was wringing out its final hoorah for the British stars of the greatest show on earth, an absent gold medallist, 3500 miles away across the Atlantic, was preparing to write another chapter in what has been amazing summer of sport.    

It was later, well past my normal bedtime, in the early hours of Tuesday morning (GB time) that I sat glued to Sky Sports 1, watching a piece of British tennis history unfold, on the (garish blue) Arthur Ashe Court at New York’s ‘Flushing Meadows’, as Andy Murray defiantly hung on to win the US Open, his first grand slam, and the first British man since 1936, to win a major.

Having relinquished a two set lead to increasingly buoyant defending champion Novak Djokovic, and staring down the barrel of a fifth grand slam final defeat, Murray somehow whipped up a final set performance to blow away his rival, as the wind finally subsided on what had been an epic, near five-hour, encounter: 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.

It took a brave-heart performance from the man of Dunblane, but the wait is over and the sainted Fred Perry, long trousers, wooden racket and all, can rest easy that at long last Britain has a worthy successor to his legendary deeds of 76 years ago.

I have questioned before whether Murray, unfortunate to find himself competing at the same time as three mighty opponents, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, would ever be able to mount a successful final challenge.   But we often see in sport,  how quickly things can change! 

It was only a couple of months ago that an emotional Murray succumbed on the Wimbledon Centre Court to Federer, after taking an opening set lead. But there was little time to brood with the Olympic Games just around the corner.

With media attention focused elsewhere, and nothing to lose, Murray displayed a much more positive, attacking attitude in the Olympic competition. A tournament of 3-set matches (apart from the final) didn’t seem to carry with it the pressures associated with a grand slam event and an unfettered Murray flourished, beating his Serbian and Swiss rivals, Djokovic and Federer, in the semi and final respectively – seemingly, with consummate ease!

I felt at the time, that the Olympic Gold medal might prove a watershed in Murray’s career. He had proved to himself he could be a winner, and against the best. It’s an old cliché but nothing breeds success like success. I’m sure Murray drew on that experience in the US Open on Monday. There is no doubt Djokovic was in the ascendency going into that final set, and the Murray of old would have melted away. But Murray the Gold medal Olympian, under the continued guidance of coach Ivan Lendl (who experienced similar problems chalking up his first major title) is made of much sterner stuff.

There have been many memorable British sporting moments this year, with Andy Murray’s Olympic Gold and first grand slam high up that list. In any other year, the US Open victory alone would probably have been enough for him to pick up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. But 2012 has been exceptional and Andy is somewhat lacking in the charisma stakes, compared to the likes of Mo and Jess, and not forgetting the iconic status of the sideburns, belonging to Brad, the retro-mod, first  Brit winner of  ‘Le Tour’.

Murray might struggle to find a way on to the BBC podium but his $1.9 million US Open prize money and potential off-court sponsorship deals should amply compensate. His long awaited, first grand slam, success was sweet  and he’s making a mint out of it! 

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One response

16 09 2012
lanceleuven

Great write up. And I love the title’s pun. 🙂

Yes, fair play to the guy. He’s done really well recently. Exceptional in fact. And I’m glad to see him finally succeed. I know it’s a long way ahead but it’ll be an interesting Wimbledon next year. Now that he’s not only got the gold and US Open under his belt, but also the fact that he did it by beating two such excellent players, is surely going to inspire him to go to Wimbledon with renewed vigor.

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