Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 US Open - Murray makes it a four man race, with first Grand Slam title
By Rob Soria
Everyone knew it was just a matter of time and for Andy Murray that time finally arrived on Monday night at the 2012 US Open. Murray held off an impressive charge from defending champion Novak Djokovic, to earn that elusive first major in another five set classic.
Edmonton - September 11, 2012 - Everyone knew it was just a matter of time. He was too good to not one at least one Grand Slam title. For Andy Murray that time finally arrived on Monday night at the 2012 US Open. After jumping out to an early two set lead, Murray held off an impressive charge from defending champion Novak Djokovic, to earn that elusive first major in another five set classic, 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2. The victory also pushed Murray past Rafa Nadal, as the number three ranked player in the ATP rankings.
Anyone who follows the game knows no British player had won a Grand Slam since Fred Perry won his eighth and final title back in 1936. The wait had been excruciating on British tennis fans but no one had felt that pressure more than Murray in recent years. To be fair, no other Brit, or Scot in Andy's case, has been near as good a player and outside of Canadian born Greg Rusedski reaching the 1997 US Open Finals, no Brit has really had a sniff.
Unfortunately for the twenty five year old, he has played in an era with three of the greatest players to have ever played the game in Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer. With his win over Novak in last night's final and his total domination of Federer in the 2012 Olympics, it looks as though Murray is poised to make that elite group of "three" into a quartet.
To be perfectly honest, with Rafa battling constant knee problems and Roger not getting any younger, it looks as though tennis fans could be entering the "Andy vs Novak" era and if their two Grand Slam marathon matches from 2012 are any indication, the game of tennis looks to be in very good hands.
After falling to Djokovic in a near five hour semi-final battle at the 2012 Australian Open, the two friends were set to renew acquaintances in what fans everywhere were hoping would be an encore presentation, at Flushing Meadows. The two didn't disappoint, despite less than favourable playing conditions, they went toe-to-toe, one rally after another...with the highlight coming during their epic 54 stroke exchange.
In the end, the opening set took 87 minutes to complete, with Murray taking the tiebreaker by a score of 12-10...passing the 1976 Jimmy Connors vs Bjorn Borg breaker, as the longest in US Open history. Not to shabby for an opening act.
After dropping the tight tiebreaker, Djokovic slumped to start the second set and found himself down 4-0. Realizing he was on the verge of falling down two sets to none, the number two seed suddenly relocated his game and in a blink of an eye, it was 5-5. It looked as though they were headed for another tiebreaker but Murray would pulled off the late break to take the set 7-5. That first Slam was so close the number three seed could taste it. That being said, the defending champ was not about to go down without a fight.
As impressive as the Murray's performance was, Djokovic took it to another level in set three and four. The Brit continued his strong play but Serbian started to find the range. Those ground-strokes that were sailing just long or wide, were starting to catch lines and pinning Murray deep behind the baseline. The five time major winner could sense the tide turning and he pounced on his opportunity. Taking the next two sets with ease and forcing a fifth set. Should any of us really expected anything less?
Much has been made of Murray's decision to bring in Ivan Lendl to help him get over the hump and win the big one. The eight time Grand Slam winner has seemed to bring a sense of calmness to the young Scots game, which would serve him well heading into the deciding set.
While Lendl won his first major at the 1984 French Open, he did so in memorable fashion. Like Murray, the talented Czech had lost his first four attempts at a slam title but managed to comeback from two sets down to defeat John McEnroe, in one of the greatest turnarounds in finals history. Murray was looking at it from the other point of view. After blowing a two set lead, Andy had to have been feeling the pressure but his play said otherwise.
Murray broke in the opening game and never looked back. As much as he appeared to have no answer for the former number one's surge in the sets three and four, he reverted back into the dominant force he was in the opening two sets. Djokovic was spent and had little left in the tank, while Murray seemed to be getting stronger with each and every point, as he cruised to a rather easy fifth set victory.
After playing a near five hour classic at the year's first Grand Slam event, the pair closed out the fourth and final major of the season, in spectacular fashion, battling for another four hour and fifty-four minutes. After waiting as long as he did to win that first major, it seemed almost fitting that Murray was forced to do it the hard way. Regardless of how he did it, that fact is he did finally do it and removing any doubt as to whether or not he was capable of winning the big one. With that monkey off his back, it now appears as though the sky is the limit for one Andy Murray.
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