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Friday, June 22, 2018

Andy Murray finally wins the big one

Andy Murray finally broke through to win his first career major on Monday night, defeating Novak Djokovic in five sets at the US Open 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.

After losing the first four major finals he reached, Murray looked like he was headed for a different outcome this tournament. He topped Djokovic in the first-set tiebreaker, and then took the second set. But then the old Andy emerged and he got wiped in the next two sets to bring about a fifth set.

Murray was undaunted in the final set, breaking Djokovic twice go up 3-0, and again to go up 5-2 before serving out the match. Even when Djokovic broke back and appeared set to even the match, Murray didn’t bend and held serve to remain in the lead. The two had some epic points, including a rally that lasted 30 strokes. Both men wanted it so badly they refused to concede points. The struggled prompted Djokovic to say after the tournament that Murray deserved the title.

This performance was the exact opposite of what Murray had delivered in past majors. He lost his first three major finals — two to Roger Federer and one to Novak Djokovic — all in straight sets. He started off well at the Wimbledon finals by winning the first set against Roger Federer before losing the next three.

In July, Murray compared himself to LeBron James regarding all the scrutiny he faced for his inability to win a major.

“Sometimes it takes guys a bit longer than others,” he said. “You know, you just have to keep putting myself in the position, and hopefully it will click.”

That’s exactly what’s happened with Murray. He beat Roger Federer at the All England Club to win the gold medal at the Olympics, and then he won the US Open in a thrilling five-setter against Novak Djokovic.

Men’s tennis saw the top four players in the game win majors this year — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and then Murray. With Nadal coming back from a knee injury, and Federer aging, we could be entering a period where Murray and Djokovic meet in the finals of many more majors.

Andy Murray’s coach, Ivan Lendl, is the only other player to lose his first four major finals. Lendl won his fifth finals appearance, and then went on to win seven more majors for a total of 8. Could we see a similar future for Murray? I wouldn’t be surprised. He looks like he’s finally figured out what it takes to be a champion.

Photo: Robert Deutsch – US Presswire

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