US Open 2012 Final Recap: Andy Murray Defeats Novak Djokovic for 1st Slam Win

Jeremy Eckstein@!/JeremyEckstein1Featured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts during his men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Day Fifteen of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Andy Murray’s 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 win over Novak Djokovic at the 2012 U.S. Open began as turbulent irritation and ended as a classic barroom brawl.

Murray's great triumph ended a bizarre tournament that navigated heavy wind, the quarterfinals loss of Roger Federer and the continued injury absence of Rafael Nadal.

It is also the fulfillment of a career quest for Murray. He is the U.S. Open champion and a Grand Slam winner. Move over, Fred Perry. Great Britain has a bona fide champion.

Murray started quickly amidst a slew of breaks from both players in heavy wind. He capped off a marathon 12-10 tiebreaker in a game that lasted 24 minutes.

Djokovic was clearly bothered by the conditions and found himself down two sets, but in the third set he moved into the baseline and scorched groundstrokes reminiscent of his 2011 form. He continued his attack with a big serve that helped him dominate the fourth set.

It seemed Murray's opportunity would be blown away in another cruel career shift, but this is the new Andy Murray. He brought his tennis racket out to the fifth set and simply dominated. He pushed aside his great rival and seized the victory with his trademark defense and fearless shot making.

He outshot and outlasted the cramping Djokovic in the fifth set with another legend in the proud history of Great Britain. Let nobody question the mettle and resolve to the Scottish warrior, Andy Murray. His vintage performance will age with fond memories for decades to come.

Murray is a new Grand Slam champion of tennis to be reckoned with in the next few years.

How much longer can Murray stoke the flames of Grand Slam hunger, energy and championship desire? Can he win more Slams and become the new king of tennis?


Late Bloomer

Success has not come easy for Murray. Since bursting onto the ATP in 2006, Murray served notice he would be a future star by defeating Roger Federer at Cincinnati.

In 2008, Murray had made it to the U.S. Open final, but fell in defeat to Federer who later quipped that Murray would need to play a more aggressive brand of tennis to be a Grand Slam champion.

He reached a career high of No. 2 in 2009, but was soon removed as Nadal and Djokovic added career streaks of their own in 2010-2011. Meanwhile the albatross that hung around Murray’s neck read “Best Player to Never Win a Major”.

Many players fade from such agonizing career peaks, but Murray pushed forward despite three more Grand Slam finals losses and only one of 13 sets won in Slam finals.

In 2012, his new partnership with Coach Ivan Lendl seemed as important to counsel with a champion who also had to eradicate the career demons of his own early career. Some called this an act of desperation.

Murray was gallant in a tough five-set defeat to Djokovic at the 2012 Aussie semifinals, but could not rise with subsequent efforts in falling to Federer and Djokovic at Dubai and Miami. He limped away from the clay court season with the usual criticisms whispered and shouted for the whole world to hear.


The Grass Became Greener

At Wimbledon, the tennis world buzzed over Lukas Rosol’s shocking upset over Nadal—who has yet to return from injury.

Federer dispatched Djokovic, recaptured his No. 1 ranking, and stood once more on the mountaintop of a 17th Grand Slam title…at the expense of Murray.

The optimists predicted Murray would build on his loss, while the fatalists believed he had been broken.

Then Murray won the gold medal in London on grass by demolishing Federer. Perhaps the fortunes of the Olympics had forever changed the future of the ATP.

Murray needed a few weeks to overcome nagging injury and setback as the U.S. Open cruised into its second week. While the tournament paid homage to Andy Roddick’s last matches and observed Federer’s quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych, Murray continued to grind out wins.


The New Rivalry

Murray may have taken the confidence of his straight sets win over Djokovic at the Olympics semifinals. While Djokovic lacked some of his sideline power, the more versatile Murray scrambled with greater purpose and mixed in more variety of shots. He was like a cross between David Ferrer and Roger Federer with his own head-smacking tenacity.

He strode into the U.S. Open finals with the confidence of a champion and an extra day of rest. He was not to be denied.

In a year that saw four different Slam winners for the first time since 2003, Murray’s best may signal a new rivalry with Djokovic. If Federer and Nadal continue to slip because of age or injury, the Serbian and the Scot may become the rivalry that sets the standard for a couple years.

But this is a day of celebration for Murray, his fans, and anyone who admires the perseverance and courage of an athlete. The trail of sorrows has become the ultimate triumph and hard work and talent have refined a new champion.

Tennis officially has a Big Four, and Andy Murray is forever a Grand Slam champion.