By Ann Liguori
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Wind. Very tricky conditions. The pressure of winning his first major after getting to five Grand Slam finals. The constant expectation that comes from your homeland when the last British man to win a Grand Slam title was Fred Perry, 76 years ago.
And oh yes, the challenge of overcoming the best hard court player of the past two seasons and the defending champion, Novak Djokovic, and coming up with enough physical and mental stamina to go the distance — and endure these challenges for four hours and 54 minutes!
Andy Murray knew it wasn’t going to be easy to win his first major. But I’m not sure anyone could have expected all these hurdles all thrown into one epic match.
Murray and Djokovic put on an incredible battle featuring a first set, 27 minute tie-breaker in which Murray won 12 points to 10; a 54 shot rally and many long dazzling rallies; Djokovic falling on the court several times; momentum shifts from each player; crowd favoring both players, perhaps cheering for a fifth set, more than for one player; and then finally, Murray winning in five sets, 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.
Obviously since they’ve played each other 14 times before Monday’s US Open final, with Djokovic winning eight of those matches and an Australian Open semifinal this year that went the distance with Djokovic winning in five sets, 7-5 in the fifth, Murray expected the intense challenges.
“I was still doubting myself right up to a few minutes before you go on to play the match,” said Murray after the win. “You’re thinking, you know, Are you going to be able to do this? This is going to be tough. The match against him always is going to hurt, you know, as well. Physically it’s challenging.”
Wow! How do you spell RELIEF?
Murray, after his win, said, “You know, I was obviously very emotional. You know, I cried a little bit on the court. You’re not sad; you’re incredibly happy. You’re in a little bit of disbelief because when I have been in that position many times before and not won, you do think, you know, Is it ever going to happen? Then when it finally does, you just yeah, you’re obviously very, very excited. … But, yeah, mainly relieved to have got over that, that last hurdle.
“I am just so relieved, like I said, to finally have got through and can put this one behind me and hopefully win more.”
Ivan Lendl, who has been coaching Murray since early in the year, said he wanted to work with Murray because he’s not afraid of hard work. Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam finals before going on to win eight Grand Slam championships.
Murray is one of the hardest workers in the game. When asked what drives him to work so hard, Murray replied, “Sometimes you question whether it’s all worth it and I have done that a few times but after the summer that I have had, you realize that it is worth it. There’s only one way to get where you want to be, and that’s with hard work and dedication.”
First a Gold Medal in his homeland and then his first Grand Slam title at his favorite tournament, the US Open.
Exhale for Andy Murray. What a relief!
Were you rooting for Murray? Be heard in the comments below!