US OPEN 2012
US Open: How Murray Won The Final
New York, U.S.A.
by Matt Fitzgerald|
With heavy wind gusting in Arthur Ashe Stadium, both players struggled to cope with the conditions in the early stages of the match. Djokovic was first to serve, with the wind behind him, and was broken to love by Murray after committing four unforced errors. The third-seeded Murray then found himself down 0/40. Djokovic capitalised on his third opportunity when a backhand slice from Murray was carved well short into the net.
Djokovic and Murray traded service holds on the end against the wind. After missing four break points in Djokovic’s second service game, Murray broke for the second time, helped by two double faults from the Serb. At 15/15, they exchanged a 54-shot rally, each making a number of adjustments to stay in the point. It ended with Murray pushing a forehand down the line wide. But Murray stayed patient, hitting three solid first serves to earn the first hold on the side with the wind.
Down 3-4, Djokovic opted to rush the net on Murray’s first service point and the tactic paid off, as Murray netted his backhand. At 15/30, the two were brought forward, blocking a number of volleys back before Murray missed a routine forehand to fall behind 0/40. Djokovic levelled the set at 4-4, again coming to net to eventually break down a scrambling Murray with a series of overheads. He then consolidated the break back with a confident game on serve to take his first lead of the match, winning 10 of 11 points.
Leading 6-5, Djokovic was two points from winning the set at 30/30, but the Scot held to force a tie-break. With Murray serving at 2-3, the two engaged in a cat and mouse point, showcasing their defensive abilities by covering all corners of the court. Djokovic prevailed to regain the advantage and once again was two points from the set when he served in the deuce court at 5-3. Murray hung tough by reeling off three straight points to reach set point, elevating the level of tension.
Murray missed his first five opportunities to close out the set, three coming off errors on his racquet. But he never allowed Djokovic to regain the lead, and on his sixth chance, Murray clinched the 87-minute set with a well-placed first serve that was returned long by Djokovic. Murray improved to 6-0 in tie-breaks during the tournament, winning it 7-6(10) in 24 minutes.
Murray carried the momentum of winning the longest tie-break in US Open final history with a comfortable opening service game. Keeping the ball in play, Murray let Djokovic beat himself, as the reigning champion found it difficult to recover from the disappointment in dropping the first set and was unable to move fluidly side to side. Sporting grazed knees, Djokovic found himself on the ground for the third time and was quickly broken to love to fall behind 0-2.
Djokovic continued to make a number of uncharacteristic errors, spraying shots in every way possible, short, long and wide to go down a double break. Djokovic gained one break back to get on the score-board and held to cut the gap to 2-4. Murray remained positive with a love service hold to move within a game of a two-set lead. But Djokovic somehow caught fire to get back into the set.
Following a routine hold to get to 3-5, Djokovic pinned Murray into a 0/40 hole through steady aggressive shot making. On his second opportunity, Djokovic broke when Murray’s forehand floated long and the Serbian’s body language turned a corner. The crowd got behind Djokovic and he fed off their energy, levelling to 5-all thanks to a sublime lob winner.
Murray regrouped from blowing his lead, holding for 6-5. In the ensuing game, Djokovic won the first point, but Murray stepped up his play, winning a 30-shot rally to open a 15/30 lead. Djokovic hit a good serve up the T and was in prime position to even the game. But Murray forced him to hit a second overhead and Djokovic smashed it wide to face two set points. After saving the first with an unreturned slice serve, Djokovic hit his 19th unforced error of the set as his down-the-line forehand landed wide. Murray won six more total points to take the set 7-5 in 59 minutes.
Murray saved two break points, going toe-to-toe on the forehand wing with Djokovic to erase the first and then bailing himself out of trouble with much needed first serves, including his second ace to win the first game. But after that hold, the set belonged to Djokovic.
Djokovic showed his ability to finish at net, blocking two low volleys to even the set at 1-1. He let out a roar, pumping up himself and the crowd. Re-energised, Djokovic again opened a 15/40 lead on Murray’s serve and broke with a deep inside out backhand return that Murray couldn’t handle.
The Serb’s only hiccup in the set came in the sixth game. Serving at 3-2, 15/15, Djokovic challenged a call on his first serve, which was confirmed out. He double faulted and then shanked a backhand to fall behind 15/40. Murray missed a chance to get back on serve by hitting a forehand long on his first break point. Djokovic pulled out three heavy serves to consolidate his lead to 4-2.
The second seed won the next two games with ease, claiming the set 6-2 in 46 minutes by finishing with an overhead winner. The difference maker for Djokovic came on his second serve. He won 54 per cent of those points in the set, compared to 37 per cent in the first set and just 22 per cent in the second set.
Djokovic seized control of the encounter, immediately breaking Murray through a well constructed point, capping it off with backhand volley winner. Murray’s frustration began to show progressively and it affected his play, as he meekly dumped forehands into the net to go down 0-2.
Murray managed to overcome a break point to hold to 1-2. Beginning to control his emotions, Murray had a chance to level the set at 30/40 in the next game, but his forehand let him down, finding the net. Djokovic went to his reliable out wide serve to move ahead 3-1. Then, with Djokovic serving at 3-2, the level of play hit its peak.
Holding game point in the ad court, Djokovic’s defensive prowess and flexibility were on full display. Murray moved him side-to-side, waiting for his moment to unload from the baseline. Engaged in a lengthy rally, Djokovic finally met his match, falling to the ground after hitting a backhand on the run, giving Murray the full open court. The efforts of both players brought the crowd to its feet as the sun faded in the sky. Djokovic recovered to win the next two points for a 4-2 lead.
Murray found his groove on serve for the second straight game, and again pressured Djokovic in the eighth game. With Djokovic serving at 4-3, 15/30, Murray was in position to pass Djokovic at net, but mishit a lob short that the Serb easily put away. Djokovic followed it up with two big serves down the T and Murray’s hopes of getting back into the set were gone.
At 3-5, the Dunblane native was up 40/15, only to lose four points in a row to see his two-set lead evaporate completely. Djokovic won the set 6-3 in 51 minutes, hitting 13 winners to nine unforced errors.
While it seemed Djokovic had everything going for him heading into the deciding set, it was Murray who drew first blood. He set up break point with forehand down the line and broke for the first time since the end of the second set when Djokovic’s slice backhand landed in the net. Djokovic didn’t back down in the next game, but Murray was the superior retriever, consolidating his advantage after Djokovic netted a backhand.
Djokovic’s intensity picked up. Serving at 0-2, 30/30, it took three overheads to win the point and the fired up Serbian turned to the crowd, motioning them to get on their feet. The moment was short-lived as Murray broke for a 3-0 lead, thanks to back-to-back unforced errors from Djokovic.
Though Murray relinquished one of his breaks, he stayed persistent. Firing a 131 mph ace out wide for a 4-2 lead, it was apparent he had the superior fitness. Unforced errors crept into Djokovic’s ground game. The World No. 2 tried to loosen his legs, squatting after his mistakes, but his movement and footwork disappeared. A forehand error saw Djokovic go down a double break once more and Murray’s journey to Grand Slam glory was in sight.
In the final game, Murray began with a backhand smash winner and then correctly challenged an ace called out to reach 30/0. Djokovic hit a forehand long to hand Murray three championship points. Djokovic staved off the first before hitting a forehand return long. With his hands over his mouth in disbelief, Murray won the fifth set 6-2, prevailing in the epic final in four hours and 54 minutes to become Great Britain’s first men’s singles major champion since 1936. Djokovic came to Murray’s end to congratulate his friend on his history making performance.