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Andy Murray’s Breakthrough Costs U.K. Bookmakers $1.6 Million

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Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Andy Murray’s breakthrough Grand Slam tennis title at the U.S. Open has proved costly for U.K. bookmakers.

Murray yesterday ended a 76-year Grand Slam drought for British men when he beat Novak Djokovic in the finals in New York. His 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 defeat of the defending champion from Serbia yesterday was his first major final after four previous losses. Murray had won gold at the London Olympics last month, beating 17-time major champion Roger Federer of Switzerland.

U.K. bookmakers paid out one million pounds ($1.6 million) in total on Murray winning the year’s final major at Flushing Meadows, according to estimates by British online sports betting website Coral and William Hill Plc, the UK’s largest bookmaker with 2,370 licensed betting offices.

“We took quite a hit,” William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said in an interview. “Every time he makes it through to a final, and every time a grand slam comes around, he is the best-backed tennis player. We’ve made a lot of money on the back of Murray, and we’re certainly not going to begrudge him finally winning a Grand Slam.”

William Hill paid out about 250,000 pounds, its biggest ever sum on an individual winning the U.S. Open, Crilly said. The bookmaker had offered odds of 5-1 on the 25-year-old from Dunblane, Scotland winning before the start of the tournament, meaning a $1 bet would yield $5 plus the original stake.

“Punters correctly predicted that winning Olympic gold would be the catalyst that launched Andy Murray to a first major victory, and so it proved,” Coral spokesman David Stevens said in an e-mailed statement. “Although bookmakers have been hit with a 1 million pound hammering, having avoided it for 76 years, we’ll happily pay out with a smile.”

Betting on Murray in Britain is what Crilly called “a patriotic punt,” similar to England playing in soccer’s World Cup. “Every year, it’s like a fixture. When Wimbledon comes around, Andy Murray is going to be backed almost twice as much as the next person.”

William Hill are now offering odds of 150-1 on Murray sweeping all four grand slam titles next year, while he’s even money to win at least one more grand slam. He’s 5-2 to win another four majors in the next four years.

“Now that he’s finally got the monkey off his back, he’ll go on and win quite a few now,” Crilly said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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