NEW YORK, September 11 – Andy Murray admitted that even with a confidence-boosting Olympic gold medal, he was nagged by doubts ahead of his US Open final triumph on Monday after having lost four prior Grand Slam finals.
“The Olympics was huge for me. It was the biggest week of my life,” Murray said. “But still, when I was sitting in the locker room beforehand, there were still doubts.
“You are still thinking, ‘If I lose this one, no one has ever lost their first five finals.’ I just didn’t really want to be that person.”
Murray is not that person. And as a result, a 76-year Grand Slam title drought for British men since Fred Perry’s 1936 US championships was forever consigned to the scrap heap of tennis history.
Murray defeated World No. 2 and defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12/10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in blustery conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium to claim his first Grand Slam title.
“It was a struggle for both of us to deal with the conditions,” Djokovic said. “At times we made a lot of unforced errors. At times we played some great points. I congratulate him because he came up with big serves when he needed to.”
Djokovic had a five-setters win streak of eight in a row snapped by Murray, who had not gone such a distance since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year.
“It was obviously a very tough match,” Murray said. “When the conditions have been like they have been, you need to focus so hard on almost every shot because the ball is very hard to control.
“So it was an incredibly tough match and obviously it felt great at the end. Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I’m feeling.
“Very happy that I managed to come through because if I had lost this one from two sets up, that would have been a tough one to take.”
Murray battled through two tense sets, then watched his hard work unravel as Djokovic fought back to take the third and fourth sets in relatively short order.
“Even though I was two sets down I still believed I could come back to the match,” Djokovic said. “I played really well third and fourth. A little bit slow start of the fifth and cost me the victory.
But while Djokovic wanted it, Murray needed it, especially after going two-sets ahead.
“It was the thing just to try to keep going for my shots and giving 110 percent, not leave anything out there on the court, because you know how hard Grand Slams are to come by and how hard you need to work to give yourself a chance to win them.
“You don’t want to step off the court not doing yourself justice. I felt maybe couple years ago in Australia a couple of years ago when I played Novak in the final there I didn’t necessarily do that and that hurt me a lot.
“If I had lost tonight it would have hurt a lot, but I would have known I would have tried my best and given it 110 percent.”
And now, Murray will have even more confidence to face the future.
“I hope it doesn’t change me as a person. That would be a bad thing,” Murray said. “I think on the court, hopefully, if I get into situations like this in the future I won’t be having all the doubts that I was having before the match.
“I’ll maybe just be a little more confident than I was before this tournament.”
BRITISH GRAND SLAM WOE
Fred Perry was the last British man to win a Grand Slam title in 1936, a landmark that Andy Murray ended on Monday with his five-set US Open victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.
AFP Sports looks back at the major events of 1936 which put Murray’s achievement into perspective:
– In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Nazi Germany reoccupied the Rhineland
– Italy annexed Ethiopia
– Spanish Civil War began
– Franklin D. Roosevelt reelected US president in landslide victory
– King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson
– Average house price in Britain was £550
– Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind published
– Max Schmeling knocks out Joe Louis in the 12th round of their heavyweight match at New York’s Yankee Stadium
– Olympics take place in Berlin