Andy Murray needs no longer be haunted by Fred Perry or the year 1936 as the Scot won his first Grand Slam in thrilling fashion, edging past the world number two, Novak Djokovic, in an epic U.S. Open final. Despite losing a two set lead, Murray prevailed 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.
As expected, the 2012 final was one of almost immeasurable quality and this time Andy Murray conquered his demons, handing Djokovic his first defeat on a hard court surface in a major tournament since the 2010 final. The Serbian was hoping for his sixth major in his third consecutive US Open final and despite launching a valiant comeback, made too many errors at key stages, allowing Murray to take advantage.
The first set is important but by no means decisive in tennis, just look at Murray's Wimbledon final against Roger Federer this year. It is so often the manner in which you win or lose it that is reflected in the rest of the match. Murray took an assertive 4-2 lead in windy conditions but Djokovic's intelligent play at the net, removed the wind issue and drew things level at 4-4. Murray has mellowed under coach Ivan Lendl, without losing his drive and passion and aided by that sporting maturity took the first set to a tie-break. Despite Djokovic edging a 30 shot rally and taking a two-point lead, Murray wouldn't let go and after an incredible five set points came and went, the British number one sealed the first set 7-6 (12-10). This had not been the surprising 6-4 opening set victory of Wimbledon. This had been a gritty, nearly-lost-but-then-won set of tennis in the windy Arthur Ashe Stadium. Recognising that seemed to be the key for Murray.
The most important thing about winning the first set is how you start the second. It seemed as though Murray had made a note of this as he raced to a 4-0 lead and, even more importantly, he fought off the Serbian's comeback at 5-5 to win the second set on a break of serve. Never before had Murray won two sets in a Grand Slam final and yet the manner in which he contended with an ever-changing momentum, was that of a champion.
With the script seemingly written, Djokovic did what world-class sportsmen do. He worked the advantage in his favour even when the fates were seemingly all against him. Murray's second serve began to wobble and the Serbian pounced to take the third set. Murray must have been anticipating a fight-back but anticipating one and enduring one are two different things. The Scotsman was beginning to look weary, referring to his legs, as "jelly-like" at the beginning of the fourth. His opponent was starting to resurrect his game. The world number two didn't let his momentum slip and despite Murray's best efforts; there was no stopping the Serbian, who claimed the fourth to give the raucous New York crowd an encore.
The fifth set. The ultimate moment in any tennis battle and Murray was so close to winning his first slam and losing his fifth slam final. With Djokovic looking weary though, Murray raced to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Tennis finals are strange things. Every time you watch one, you can't believe that the quality can be so high for such long periods and yet with every final, the bar is raised. This was no exception and for Murray, it had the perfect ending. So many tennis players 'have the potential' to win a Grand Slam but there is a great difference between potential and potential realised. For Murray, that realisation fittingly arrived in this historical summer for British sport.