Andy Murray’s breakthrough Grand Slam title was lauded from London to Sydney after the Scot became the first British man to win a major tennis tournament in 76 years by beating Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open.
The 25-year-old defeated defending champion Djokovic of Serbia 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 yesterday in New York to win his first major final after four previous losses.
The Sun, the U.K.’s top-selling tabloid newspaper, saluted Murray’s victory with the headline: “Yankee Doodle Andy!” on its website, the match having finished at 2:04 a.m. U.K. time. The Guardian described his win as a “Fairytale of New York” in a headline on its home page, while the Daily Telegraph simply said: “Andy Murray makes history.” Before yesterday, Fred Perry had been the last British man to win a major singles title, at the 1936 U.S. National Championships.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter: “Delighted Andy Murray is continuing a golden summer of sport by winning the U.S. Open. A truly great victory.”
Murray’s win caps one of the most successful summers in British sports, which started with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France cycling race in July. The British Olympic and Paralympic teams won a record haul of medals at the London Games, both finishing third in the overall medals table. Murray won the gold medal in men’s tennis and the silver in mixed doubles, held at Wimbledon.
Murray’s match against Djokovic finished in the early hours in Britain, and a lot of people were waking up to the news.
“I went to bed at about 1 a.m., and listened to the match on the radio,” said Elizabeth Plover, a 37-year-old mother-of-two from west London. “I turned it off as they were at two sets all, because I couldn’t cope with it any longer. I was actually quite surprised he’s won, he’s not made it so many times.”
It was Murray’s fifth Grand Slam final. His win came two months after world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland reduced Murray to tears by beating him in the Wimbledon final.
“We are all delighted for Andy,” Phil Brook, chairman of the All England Club, said on the Wimbledon website. “Winning your first Grand Slam has to be a very special moment in a player’s career and it was a fantastic performance in an epic final to cap a truly memorable summer of tennis for him personally and for British tennis.”
Roger Draper, chief executive of Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) called Murray’s win “an extraordinary achievement for Andy, a magical moment for British tennis and a fitting finale to a golden summer for our sport.”
The LTA, which has at times come under scrutiny in the U.K. media for not producing enough British tennis champions despite its funding, will try to “ make the most of this wonderful opportunity to grow our sport,” Draper said.
The victory turned out to be costly for U.K. bookmakers, which lost one million pounds ($1.6 million), according to an e-mailed statement by British online sports betting website Coral.
“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,” Coral spokesman David Stevens said.
Eleven-time major champion Rafael Nadal of Spain congratulated Murray on Twitter and added “It was a spectacular final, both of you deserve to win!!”
The Spaniard has beaten Murray in 13 of 18 matches, including three Wimbledon semifinals, one French Open semifinal and last year’s U.S. Open semifinal. Nadal was knocked out of the second round at Wimbledon this year, and missed the Olympics and the U.S. Open because of a knee injury.
The Daily Record, Scotland’s best-selling newspaper, posted a photograph slide-show from Murray’s win on the front page of its website, adding in a headline that he’d cemented his “place in sporting history.” The British Broadcasting Corp. had a picture of Murray kissing the trophy on its lead story.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” Mark Meiklejohn, a 27-year-old lawyer who stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch the entire match, said in an interview in the center of Edinburgh. “He thoroughly deserved it.”
Tennis players and coaches also took to the social networking site to toast Murray’s victory, which broke a stranglehold on major titles by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic since Juan Martin Del Potro won the 2009 U.S. Open.
‘War of a Match’
“Congratulations Andy Murray a great effort and a war of a match -- enjoy the win,” wrote Paul Annacone, the coach of Federer, who lost in the quarterfinals in New York.
The only other U.S. Open final to last as long was in 1988, when Mats Wilander of Sweden defeated Ivan Lendl, also in four hours and 54 minutes. Lendl, who is now Murray’s coach, is the only other man who lost his first four Grand Slam finals.
Top-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship last month for his second major title and added back-to-back titles in the U.S. PGA Tour’s playoffs on Sept. 3 and 9, wrote Murray’s win was “The first of many and well worth the wait.”
Murray’s breakthrough in his 28th major came after he lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Djokovic and was beaten by Federer in three others: at the 2008 U.S. Open, in Australia in 2010 and this year at Wimbledon.
At the British Consulate-General in downtown Sydney, staff tracked the score on the Internet before gathering around a television as the match, which finished at 11:04 a.m on Australia’s east coast, neared its conclusion.
While there were some Djokovic fans among them, Murray’s win was met by cheers, said Deputy Consul-General Scott Strain.
“It’s terrific to have a British player win one of the Grand Slam tournaments,” Strain, a Scot, said in an interview from his office overlooking Sydney Harbor. “It’s been a while and Andy’s had some frustrating times recently when he’s almost got there. Hopefully this is something that’ll lead on to even bigger and better things for him.”