• Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic, US Open final

Murray floors Djokovic to claim US Open glory

ESPN staff
September 10, 2012

At the fifth attempt, Andy Murray emerged from the shadow of Fred Perry by toppling Novak Djokovic in five thrilling sets to lift the US Open title.

Four bites at the cherry, one at Wimbledon, two in Australia and one in New York, were passed up. But having claimed Olympic glory, Murray capped a golden summer by outbattling Djokovic to take the crown with an amazing 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 win.

Djokovic showed the resolve that has taken him to five grand slam victories by picking himself off the canvas to force a deciding set, but he simply ran out of steam against an inspired Murray.

Blustery conditions greeted the players when they walked on court and it was clear from before the first ball was struck in anger that the wind would play a part, as Djokovic was forced to delay his opening serve on account of a stray towel blowing on to court. Murray won the first point, taking the initiative by pushing Djokovic out wide.

Djokovic, as in the first set of his semi-final win over David Ferrer, looked troubled by the wind. He was guiding the ball into play rather than striking it with authority. The moment he added power, he sent the ball flying over the baseline.

Djokovic settled in the second game, breaking back with Murray this time the man to make errors, but he continued to struggle on serve and had to fend off four break points to hold for the first time.

The Djokovic error count continued to mount and two double faults handed Murray a second break. The following game saw the pair trade blows for 54 shots, the longest rally of the tournament. It was Djokovic who won the point but Murray shook it off to hold.

A couple of games later, Djokovic broke back for 4-4, producing some of his best play of the match by taking the game to Murray. Murray did gift a point by missing a simple forehand, but the Serb kept pressing and he broke through when winning an amazing point that saw Murray defend resolutely as he retrieved a string of smashes, but eventually he failed to get a backhand back.

The first set went to a tiebreak, which spanned over 20 minutes as neither refused to give ground. The first mini-break went Djokovic's way, taking advantage of a mishit mid-rally but the Brit went to his favourite drop shot to get the mini-break back. Murray was on the wrong end of a 30-shot rally, sending a volley over the baseline that he looked odds-on to make, but he kept fashioning chances. He squandered a gilt-edged opening on his own serve when sending a simple backhand into the net.

Four more chances came and went, but at the sixth time of asking he found a first serve which Djokovic could not control, leading to a roar of delight from Murray as the ball landed long.

Djokovic went AWOL at the start of the second set. He lost four games on the spin in a matter of minutes as he chuntered under his breath about his frustration with the situation. With the set seemingly gone, Djokovic broke from nowhere and it flicked a switch as the Serb started playing with freedom. He broke again at 3-5 and looked set to pounce, but at 5-6 he inexplicably sent a smash wide and then threw a forehand into the same tramline as Murray moved two sets to the good.

In stark contrast to the second set, Djokovic's body language was far more positive at the start of the third set. He worked two break points in Murray's opening service game but the Brit found four superb first serves to stave off the threat.

Djokovic came under pressure in his opening service games but he came up with three brilliant volleys to win a point that he looked certain to lose and it saw the Serb roar with delight - for the first time in the match. The fear for the Murray camp was that it would spark Djokovic into life and it did as he broke in the following game to edge ahead in the third.

The defending champion faced break points in the sixth game but found first serves to dig himself out of a hole and he then found some immaculate length on the return of serve to break for a second time and it enabled him to cruise through the third set.

Djokovic carried the momentum into the fourth, being rewarded for some adventurous sorties to the net by breaking Murray. Umpire Jake Garner brought himself firmly into the equation in the fourth as with Djokovic at deuce in the fourth game he was given a time violation. He looked apoplectic with rage and produced two huge first serves to stave off the threat - prompting a chest pump and a steely stare the way of Garner.

Murray surrendered his serve for a second time as Djokovic took the fourth but there were signs towards the end of the set that he had found a second wind - having looked a spent force. He reinforced this feeling by breaking Djokovic in the opening game of the fifth.

Murray is famed for his defensive skills and they served him well in the fifth, as he broke for a second time on the back of his ability to play one more ball. Djokovic hit some ferocious groundstrokes but Murray found an answer to eventually force a mistake from his rival.

Djokovic even though clearly fatigued refused to go away and he broke back immediately and then held in an epic game. The quality of play in the first three sets was somewhat patchy, on account of the conditions, but in the final two it was top-drawer. Murray stood tall in the face of Djokovic's final stand and a love service hold in the sixth game - capped off with an ace - brought the crowd to their feet.

The aforementioned Fred Perry won his first slam in New York on this day in September 1933. He was seeded three against Jack Crawford, seeded two, who had won the Australian Open earlier in the year - and Perry did it in five sets.

Murray had all the boxes in place and he ticked them off one by one, finally breaking Djokovic's resolve when breaking again to lead 5-2. He kept his nerve to close out the match, ending Britain's 76-year wait for a men's singles champion.

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