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By Julian Linden
NEW YORK, Sept 10 Andy Murray fought off Novak
Djokovic to win an epic U.S. Open final on Monday and become the
first British man in 76 years to win a grand slam singles title.
The Scotsman, beaten in his four previous grand slam finals,
made it fifth time lucky with a nerve-jangling 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6
6-2 victory at a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium where the players had
to battle the elements as much as each other.
With both men struggling to control the ball in the gusting
winds, and battling exhaustion in a final that tied the record
as the longest at Flushing Meadows, the match became a test of
courage and stamina and it was Murray who handled the decisive
After losing the first two sets, Djokovic suddenly raised
his game to win the next two and force a deciding fifth set,
seizing the momentum as Murray started to wilt.
But the Olympic champion regained his composure and jumped
out to a 3-0 lead in the final set with two service breaks then
hung on to seal an emotional victory.
"It was incredibly tricky conditions. After the third and
fourth sets it was tough mentally for me," said Murray.
"Novak is so strong. I don't know how I was able to come
through in the end."
The 25-year-old Murray, a survivor of the 1996 Dunblane
school massacre, won a titanic first set that took almost an
hour and a half to complete and ended in a 22-point tiebreaker,
then added the second set despite blowing a 4-0 lead against the
Djokovic, already a five-times grand slam champion,
rebounded to win the third, then the fourth to raise the
prospect that he could become the first man to win the final
after losing the first two sets since Pancho Gonzales in 1949.
However, the world number two was unable to conjure another
fightback as his legs started to cramp and Murray wrapped up
victory after four hours and 54 minutes, the same time it took
Mats Wilander to beat Murray's coach Ivan Lendl in the 1988
"It wasn't to be but I want to congratulate Andy for his
first grand slam, he absolutely deserves it," Djokovic said.
The last British man to win a grand slam was Fred Perry, who
clinched his final major in New York in 1936 when men played
tennis in long trousers and used wooden racquets.
It was the same year Britain's King Edward VIII abdicated to
marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
Murray emerged as the man most likely to end that barren run
when he made it to the 2008 U.S. Open final, losing to Roger
Federer in straight sets. He then made the Australian Open final
in 2010 and again in 2011 but doubts about his mental toughness
grew when he lost them both in straight sets.
The turning point came just a few months ago.
He made the final at Wimbledon and although he lost to
Federer he won the first set and with a bit of luck, might have
won the match.
A few weeks later, he avenged his loss to Federer by beating
him in the Olympic final.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford/Ian Ransom)