NEW YORK (AP):
It took Andy Murray only six minutes shy of five hours to win the US Open final on Monday night, yet that was only a blink of an eye compared with the 76 years Britain had waited to have a men's champion in a grand slam event.
The 25-year-old Scotsman beat defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 to end not only Britain's barren run, but his own, having previously lost all four grand slam finals he had played.
It felt like three matches packed into one and maybe a lifetime or two for those watching back home, where it was a few minutes after 2 a.m. yesterday when the last ball was struck. After taking a two-set lead, then squandering it, then girding himself for the deciding fifth set, Murray brought the first major men's title back to Britain since Fred Perry in 1936.
"I cried a little bit on the court," said Murray. "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, is it ever going to happen?"
If there's one other person aware of how difficult these things are to conquer, it's Murray's coach, Ivan Lendl. To prepare for the season, Murray hired Lendl, the Czech who lost in his first four trips to Grand Slam finals before breaking through at the French Open in 1984.
The first one under his belt, Lendl went on to win seven more.
"It was a very strange thing," the 52-year-old three-time US Open champion said. "I went, in one match, from a guy who can never come back to a guy who never gives up. I don't think I deserved either of those. But that's the way it goes."
When they teamed up, Lendl and Murray both said it would take between six and nine months to see the results. You could've set your watch by that one. Murray won the Olympic gold medal last month on home turf at Wimbledon. He closed out a gruelling summer of tennis by going seven for seven at Flushing Meadows.
And the last of those seven was the best. The final included rallies that often lasted 20, 25, 30 strokes - and one that even went 55.
It included 17 breaks of serve and 121 unforced errors - a number that often speaks of shaky play, but in this case was a testament to the way the wind wreaked havoc with seemingly every shot over these gruelling five sets.
The four hours, 54 minutes tied a US open final record.
"It was an incredibly tough match and it felt great at the end," Murray said. "Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I'm feeling just now."
"I really tried mentally to be out there and physically to always push myself over the limits," Djokovic said. "If I had won that first set and had some chances, maybe the match would go a different way. But there is no reason to go back and say 'What if? What if?' He's a Grand Slam winner and he deserves to be there."