New York: the city where talented people go to prove their worth. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. The lights, the glamour, surely the perfect place for an athlete to prove he is one of the best in the world? Flushing Meadows: the last grand slam of the season where history and victory lie in the mind and the muscle of the women and men who compete to their limit.
Enter one Andy Murray, Scotland’s son. Once a green boy from Dunblane, who gained notoriety by reaching the 2008 singles final at Flushing Meadows and becoming the British number one. Although talented, patriotic and confident, his talent was revoked with poor fitness and stamina early on in his career. Now, at his peak age, he has trained fiercely and stands near the top in terms of male single player fitness. His coach, the brilliant Ivan Lendl, is aways reserved, cold maybe, but a fantastic coach. Physiologically he has tuned Murray from an angry young man to a professional athlete. Physically he has turned Murray into a machine.
Often accused of being too stern and serious, Murray bared his soul after a much maligned Wimbledon final defeat to the incredible Roger Federer. He cried to the British public and enforced his likability. The boy became the man, and rather than breaking down after his tough defeat he came back like a storm in the Olympics, dominating Roger Federer and winning the mens gold on the same stage, where he was crippled two weeks earlier. He also earned the mixed doubles silver with Laura Robson, a great talent who will certainly be very competitive in the women’s tournament.
Murray walked into the US Open tournament in the best of confidence. Since athletes speak about 90% of winning being in the mind, being happy was a must for Murray. He was drawn against number two in the world, Novak Djokovic, in the final. Relentlessly consistent, powerful with a strong winning spirit. Djokovic is an amazing player on especially hard courts and if anyone wants to beat him they will have to play the game of their life.
The match started in a blustery New York evening. This favoured Murray from the start, putting Djokovic on the ropes and winning him the first set after an unforced error ending the tiebreak 7-6. The players were on eggshells, not daring to hit the ball particularly hard in fear of the wind catching it. Technically, Murray was accurate, physically he was strong and mentally he was focussed. He showcased some of his best moves and went on to win the second set.
Djokovic then had a choice that would define the rest of the match. His mentality would dictate it. He could fold and let Murray gain on his two sets to win the match. He could alternatively, pull out some of the best rallies of his career and fight Murray to the death, overcoming a dominant opponent. Unfortunately for Murray, and Britons, he accomplished the latter. Winning the third set after a lull in the wind.
As the sun set over Manhattan, the 4th set began. Murray still with the momentum of a 2-1 set lead. Djokovic pushed on the Scot with a double break and eventually won the set with over four hours on the clock. Djokovic warranted the question at some times: “how is this physically possible?” as he sprinted through the court catching some previously thought of as impossible shots. He was confident exposing Murray’s weaknesses with his stereotypical consistency. The Serbian was back on form.
2-2 and the momentum changed to Djokovic. Could Murray possibly win the fifth set and the title? Starting well, Murray broke in the first game. Then, in some amazing scenes, went up 3 love with an impressive double break. He just needed to keep to serve and he would win! The double was then cancelled with a Djokovic break, taking the score to 3-1 in the decider set. The war then switched to attrition, with both players not really playing winning shots, but rather waiting for mistakes. Although Djokovic played his stereotypical attacking game to some fantastic defensive play from Andy Murray at times. Djokovic played to serve taking the set to 3-2 and Murray then found some incredible form, taking the game to 4-2 and reclaiming the double break. Serving to win the title Murray took it to 40 love and Djokovic clawed a point back, fighting until the death. Murray won the match with a mistake from Novak Djokovic to universal cheering. A tear ran down my cheek after the Scot collapsed on his knees and brought his hands to his face. I realise what this victory means in this roller coaster of a match. The 76 year wait has ended for a British player to win a grand slam.
This victory is massive for both Andy Murray and British sport. This achievement may inspire children around the UK pick up tennis rackets. After this amazing sporting summer, this match will be remembered as one of the best in the history of tennis. Both players were at the peak of their performance and showed it, pulling of some impossibly difficult shots. Andy Murray has come of age and without disrespecting any of the amazing achievements by our other heroic athletes this summer, I would say he should win Sports Personality Of the Year. The sky is the limit now for Scotland’s son, Andy Murray.
Bold Denotes Murray: 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2
Match Duration: 4 hours 54 minutes