After playing second fiddle in his first four grand slam finals, Andy Murray finally won a major title when he defeated Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, in a scintillating U.S. Open men's final on Monday. Heavy wind swirled inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Murray wavered, giving back a two-set lead before finally securing Great Britain's first grand slam title since Fred Perry won the U.S. championships in 1936.
The match lasted four hours 54, minutes (tied for the longest final in Open history) and saw 17 service breaks. The first set lasted 87 minutes — and included a 54-shot rally — before Scotland's Murray, prevailed, 12-10, in a tiebreak. He gave back a two-break lead in the second before rallying to win, 7-5, and take a two-set lead. But Djokovic displayed his stellar return and sterling fitness to level the match and cause many to wonder if Murray was cursed.
In the fifth set, Murray avoided what would have been his most devastating loss by turning the table on Djokovic and breaking the defending champ twice to take a 3-0 lead. The two players traded breaks one more time before Murray, taking advantage of a cramping Djokovic, served the match out.
Murray, 25, has had grand-slam title envy toward Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but not anymore. Two months after crying on Centre Court at Wimbledon, Murray smiled and clung to the trophy in Flushing. His win in New York means that each of the world's top four players has a major title in 2012. Combine that with Murray's Olympic gold medal, and he has a case to be player of the year. In the marathon final, he outlasted the tour's most physical player and almost induced a smile from coach Ivan Lendl. (He also lost his first four grand slam finals — then won eight titles.) Murray still has some work to do in that department — and, as far as many Brits are concerned, the Wimbledon department — but Monday's championship was well-earned.