By Greg Robertson
Andy Murray gave his supporters several heart attacks today.
He then gave them a Grand Slam title.
The Scotsman and No. 3 seed continued his recent dominance of Novak Djokovic by backing up his gold medal performance at the London 2012 Olympics to win the US Open 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.
It was his first Grand Slam title since turning professional in 2004.
And the match was nothing short of epic.
The power struggle began early, with Murray breaking the second seed immediately in the opening game. But the Serbian struck straight back as both players tried to adapt to gusty, windy conditions. The to-and-fro was a sign of things to come.
The first set went to a lengthy tie-breaker with Murray winning 12-10.
But if the first set was tight, the second was it’s polar opposite; Murray dominating early and Djokovic looking to have lost his steam.
Murray served and held, then broke and held again to explode out to a 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Djokovic, the rot continued in the fourth game. Unforced errors erupted from his racquet as he hit three balls long, while with serve, losing to trail 4-0.
But this match was all about momentum shifts, with Djokovic picking the wind and finding some game, breaking Murray’s serve in the fifth. He went on to hold and then break again, to somehow trail 5-4 and return the set back to serve.
While Murray appeared to be crumbling under the pressure, Djokovic cut out his errors – briefly – to tie things up 5-all.
And then Murray clutched at a left quad – when actually it was his game that was being stretched.
He held serve though. His quad held up too. And the 25-year-old turned things around once more to break Djokovic and win the set 7-5, and avoid a repeat of the first set tie breaker.
In reality, after two sets of Murray dominance, the separation between the finalists came down to unforced errors with Djokovic on the wrong said of the ledger by 10.
From this point, seemingly up against an out of sorts Djokovic, if Murray was to lose the match it would have to come down to one monumental collapse.
That collapse never came.
With the advantaged of serving first in the third set, odds were stacked in the Scot’s favour to take the title in straight sets. But within seconds, Djokovic looked as though he’d wrestled the advantage away, somehow conjuring up two break points.
Murray dug deep, won four consecutive points, including an emphatic ace, to take the lead 1-0 in the third set and was fast tracking himslef to tennis history.
But Djokovic wasn’t done.
The good news for Murray was that he was up two sets to love. The bad news was that Djokovic broke his serve, held two of his own and led 3-1. Even worse news was that the tide was turning.
Murray had a chance, having two break points but let the opportunity to bring the set back to serve slip through his fingers. Djokovic was on the comeback trail, holding a 2-4 lead and the critical edge in momentum.
The World Number 2 then broke again and had the chance to serve for the set at 2-5. Suddenly the wobbly wheels were gone and Djokovic had a new set of tyres fitted. He screeched to the front and got the chequered flag 2-6 in the set.
And with a new set of tyres on, the body looked good too – his body language, that is – as did the confidence, breaking Murray’s serve in the opening game of the fourth set.
It went to serve in the next two games and Murray had his groove back on, with two break points while down 2-1.
But the defining points that he was winning in the first and second sets were no longer there. And Djokovic held to take a 3-1 lead and keep the game break advantage.
If there wasn’t already enough drama, the umpire suddenly chimed in, calling a time violation on Djokovic.
It angered the Serb. It reinvigorated the Scot. Murray held his serve to trail 2-3 and it was time to test the mettle of Djokovic once more.
He answered and took the set score to 3-4, Djokovic serving.
When Murray played a two-handed backhand passing shot to lead 15-30 in the game, it looked like Murray’s calling was to be heard.
It fell on deaf Djokovic ears, slamming the ball passed Murray first though an ace, and then cantering to take the game and the set lead 3-5.
Djokovic broke Murray’s serve once more, and the US Open title would come down to a fifth and final set.
Back against the wall, Murray showed fight. His first serve was gone – only 45 percent, but his heart was still in it.
Murray broke Djokovic. And everyone wanted to see history.
He then held serve. And everyone was starting to believe that history was within reach.
When Murray held serve and a 3-0 lead the believers began to chant and the doubters began to believe.
Djokovic wasn’t among them. He answered, with Murray serving, to give himself a sniff of a chance of getting back into things at 1-3 and with the serve.
But then came the golden glimmer from the Murray’s Racquet. He served and won to love to lead 4-2 and had two break points to take it to 5-2. He converted.
Fittingly, Murray had the chance to serve for the title.
And after the finest of golden British sporting summers, in a US stadium blasted by wind and tornadoes, destiny happened in just shy of five hours.
Andy Murray had finally arrived.