What a memorable night for Andy Murray and his fans. The Scot ended a 76-year British Grand Slam drought by winning the US Open title tonight in magnificent fashion, defeating defending champion Novak Djokovic 76(10), 75, 26, 36, 62 in a 4 hour, 54 minute marathon.
Like his coach Ivan Lendl, Murray was 0-4 lifetime in Grand Slam finals and near the end it appeared destined to continue. But after dropping the third and fourth sets in decided fashion Murray roared back in the fifth.
Murray’s title in his third of the year after Brisbane and the Olympic gold in London last month. He’ll also move up a spot to No. 3 in the new ATP World Tour rankings.
Djokovic still leads Murray in their head-to-head 8-7. The two split two incredible 5-set Grand Slam matches this year.
The Scot finished the match with 31 winners, 56 unforced errors and he was 8 of 17 on break points.
Afterward, an elated and relieved Murray spoke to the press:
On court ceremony:
Interview room presser:
Q. First of all, congratulations. From my perspective, it looked like you played like a man just possessed out there. Just talk about the fight that you had and the feeling of having this trophy in front of you.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, it was obviously a very tough match. You know, mentally, the last three, four days have been pretty tiring. You know, when the conditions have been like they have been, you need to focus so hard, you know, on almost every shot because, you know, the ball is very hard to control. So mentally it was challenging, you know, aside from it being, you know, a slam final and having not won one before, playing against Novak who, you know, on this surface is I mean, in the slams I don’t think he’s lost for, you know, a couple of years. So it was an incredibly tough match, and, yeah, obviously it felt great at the end. “Relief” is probably the best word I would use to, you know, describe how I’m feeling just now. Yeah, very, very happy that I managed to come through because if I had lost this one from two sets up, that would have been a tough one to take.
Q. You just said “relief.” Is there a moment where you thought, “exultation” too?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know what that means. (Laughter.)
Q. Thrilled, you know, excitement.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. I mean, obviously you’re feeling a lot of things. You know, like I was obviously very emotional. You know, I cried, you know, a little bit on the court. You’re not sad; you’re incredibly happy. You’re in a little bit of disbelief because when I have been in that position many times before and not won, you do think, you know, Is it ever going to happen? Then when it finally does, you just yeah, you’re obviously very, very excited. But, yeah, mainly relieved to have got over that, that last hurdle.
Q. For 76 years British players have carried a millstone around their neck. What is it like to have finally done it?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, when you’re on the court, you don’t necessarily feel it, but I know when I was serving for the match, there’s a sense of how, you know, how big a moment that is in British tennis history really. So, you know, that obviously adds to it. I know more than most, you know, British players, I have been asked about it many times when I got close to winning Grand Slams before. I get asked about it more and more even after I won the Olympics. I still got asked, When are you going to win a Grand Slam? So, yeah, it’s great to have finally done it, and I said in one of the interviews after the match, I hope now, you know, it inspires some kids to play tennis and also takes away the notion that British tennis players choke or don’t win or it’s not a good sport. You know, it’s in a very good place in the UK right now. Obviously Laura has done very well. The Olympics was great for us. Liam Broady was in the final here in the juniors. It’s in a good place. I hope it stays that way.
Q. When Novak took that timeout, what was going through your mind? And how did you keep focused on doing the job?
ANDY MURRAY: Actually, I felt fine after I got that break to serve for it at 52. I was still obviously very nervous around sort of 32, 42. You still are a long way from the finish line. When the conditions are like that, really anything can happen. You know, I got myself up after a minute or so of sitting down and just went to the back of the court and thought, you know, Where are you going to serve, first point? Once I got that first point, I settled down and felt fine. I have served matches very well my whole career. I have never really had a problem with it. Yeah, today was the same.
Q. How tough was it at the start of the fifth set when he had come back? Did the other finals go through your mind at all?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I wasn’t thinking about the other finals. I was thinking a bit more about what happened the last couple of sets and the situation I kind of found myself in after I guess it was nearly four hours of play by that stage. I went to the toilet after the fourth set and just, you know, had a think and, you know, said, It’s just one more set. Give everything. You don’t want to come off this court with any regrets. Don’t get too down on yourself. Just try and fight. I got a bit fortunate to get the break at the beginning of the set, and that helped. I got a net cord on the slice backhand. Then I settled down a bit after that.
Q. I’m sure you’re going to be asked this question a lot: Can you give us a sense how different this was to winning the gold medal in the Olympics? One, a huge victory for the country; the other, a huge victory for you, vindication. How do you compare and contrast them a bit?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it’s definitely different. You know, at the Olympics there was so much going on, you know, with all of the other sports and everyone was doing really well. There was a lot of momentum and stuff. You know, I had also the mixed doubles to focus on a bit. When you know you’re guaranteed a couple of silver medals, that also maybe helped me a little bit going into the final there. Whereas here, you know, I was still doubting myself right up to a few minutes before you go on to play the match. You’re thinking, you know, Are you going to be able to do this? This is going to be tough. The match against him always is going to hurt, you know, as well. Physically it’s challenging. Yeah, it’s something I have never done before. I have been in this position many times and not managed to get through. So there is a lot of things you’re thinking about before you go out on the court. I am just so relieved, like I said, to finally have got through and can put this one behind me and hopefully win more.
Q. What are your thoughts now on just how difficult the personal road has been for you to get to this first Grand Slam championship?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, it’s been tough because, you know, I have lost a lot of tight matches and semifinals and lost comfortably in my first few slam finals, as well. I mean, obviously not everyone in here sees all of the stuff that goes on away from the court in terms of the training that you do and, you know, I guess the physical sort of suffering, the stuff you put your body through on a weekly basis to try and prepare for these moments so you can play for fourandahalf hours at a high intensity. That’s what’s tough. I mean, my life is still very, very good. Still very fortunate to be able to do this for a living. But, you know, when you get so close to achieving really my last goal I had left to achieve in tennis in winning a Grand Slam, and when you have been there many times and not done it, it is easy to doubt yourself. You know, I’m just, like I say, glad I managed to finally do it. Happy I was able to do it for all the guys I work with, as well, because they have been with me pretty much from the start and seen all of those things that go on away from the court.
Q. How old were you when you first felt that weight of, you know, the British history? Secondly, when it was slipping away a bit, two sets to Love lead, did you get scared and think, Oh, my God, I’m going to let this slip away from me?
ANDY MURRAY: I didn’t feel scared, but it’s something that you do like I said, at the end of the fourth set, you are thinking, What’s gone on here the last couple of sets? What can I do to try and change it? Obviously when you’re playing against someone like Novak who he has come back in a lot of matches, especially here, and he is in very good shape, you’re going to have to match him right up until the end. So, yeah, even during the match you’re still questioning yourself a bit and you’re still doubting yourself a little bit. Yeah, I just managed to stay tough enough today and get through.
Q. How old were you when you first felt that weight?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I don’t know exactly. I mean, probably when I lost in the Aussie Open final, that may be the first time really, you know, I was starting to feel like, you know, something that kind of everyone was maybe expecting to happen. But I knew deep down how tough it was to do it because of the people you were competing against. So I started to question whether I was going to be able to do it, you know, around that age. But I always worked hard and tried to do all the right things. I’m glad it finally happened.
Q. You have obviously had this fabulous tournament, this fabulous summer, but looking back on the process you just talked about, you may have shared this before, but what was the toughest stretch, the toughest moment or when you had the most doubt?
ANDY MURRAY: After I lost to Novak in Australia last year, I wasn’t feeling good at all for pretty much into the clay court season. So that was a good threemonth stretch, three, fourmonth stretch where I really struggled with my game. I struggled, you know, for motivation. I lost and I think I lost in the first round of Indian Wells and Miami. You know, I really wasn’t playing well, wasn’t enjoying it so much, and I stopped working with Alex Corretja around that time, as well. That was also hard. I mean, since I come on the tour, that was probably the hardest part.
Q. Having four different winners this year in the slams and having you won the Olympics and being in the final of Wimbledon, do you consider yourself the most successful player of the year until now, more or less? Another question: I remember you didn’t like to play in wind. You told us many, many times. Did you attend a navigation college in South Hampton to improve your attitude towards playing in the wind?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I didn’t. I don’t think I have had the best year on the tour, no. I think the last few months have been great for me, but, you know, there is more to the tennis tour than just the Grand Slams. You know, Novak has played great tennis in most of the Masters Series, as well. Roger has got himself back to No. 1. You know, I think it is important to remember the tennis season. It starts in January, finishes in November, there is four slams, but there is also many other tournaments to get to No. 1 in the world, which I think if you’re No. 1 you deserve to be the player of the year. You can’t just rely on only playing the Grand Slams. You need to do well at the other events, as well. I haven’t done as well as I have needed to get to No. 1 in the world. I would say Novak or Roger would be the best players this year. But there is still a few months left. And, no, I didn’t do the South Hampton thing.
Q. There is a term in American sports, ‘act like you’ve been there before. Is this utter fatigue you’re going through? You appear as if you’re coming in here after a big loss, not like the culmination there is the first smile. That’s what I’m looking for. You showed so much personality after the loss in Wimbledon and winning the Olympics. Emotionally, what level of euphoria are you going through now that you have this huge accomplishment behind you as opposed to in front of you?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it’s hard to describe because I’m thinking a lot just now. I’m thinking a lot about a lot of different things. I have obviously just seen the guys that I work with, I saw my girlfriend, my mom, you know, all those people. I think everyone is just in a little bit of shock, to be honest, that it’s kind of happened. I see my mom after I have lost in slam finals and stuff, and she’s been really upset. Everyone is really, really happy, but…
Q. This would be a good time to show it.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. (Laughter.) Exactly. I think we’re sort of learning from Lendl a little bit. (Laughter.)
Q. Learn the onthecourt stuff, not the off.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah. He doesn’t smile a whole lot. (Laughter.) Yeah, it’s hard to explain. It’s been a long, long journey to this point. So I’m just I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s disbelief or whatever. I’m very, very happy on the inside. I’m sorry if I’m not showing it as you would like.
Q. Back to 1936 for a minute. I have been in this room many, many times. I have heard the topic, the drought brought up with Tim Henman many times and with you. It’s a topic you have had to endure. With this profession comes a ton of pressure. How much pressure has it been, the hopes Britain has had upon you? And it was that way with Tim before and others. Talk about that. And also how great a relief is it to finally have shed that?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I did get asked about that all of the time for the last few years. Most press conferences I would do I would get asked a question along those sort of lines, and it does build pressure a little bit. You try not to think about it much when you’re playing, but like I said, when I was serving for the match, it’s something that you you know, I realized how important that moment was, and, you know, for British tennis or British sport. It’s something that hasn’t happened for a long time obviously in our country. And, yeah, I’m obviously proud that I managed to, you know, to achieve it, and, yeah, I don’t have to get asked that stupid question again. (Laughter.)
Q. As a followup, I want to ask: Did the Olympic victory help, too? A stepping stone?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think even after Wimbledon this year, I felt much better after losing that match than I had after other slams. The support I had afterwards was something I hadn’t really experienced before. That also helped me to get over it quickly. The Olympics was I mean, it was obviously huge for me. It was the biggest week of my life, for sure. But still today, you know, before the match, when I was sitting in the locker room beforehand, like I say, there are still doubts. You’re still thinking, If I lose this one, you know, no one’s ever lost their first five finals. You know, I just didn’t really want to be that person. It was good to win.
Q. You talked about feeling different going into the Olympic final after Wimbledon. Going into this US Open final, did it feel different? If so, how?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, going into the Olympic final I felt different than going into the Wimbledon final. I think I dealt with both situations fairly well. I wasn’t too nervous. But like I say, today I was very nervous before the match. You know, like I say, I was doubting myself a bit. I mean, I don’t know whether winning the Olympics helped me today or not, but, you know, I don’t think the Olympics victory, when I got into the fifth set there, that wasn’t something I was thinking about, you know, at all.
Q. But your mentality going in. You said the mentality going in after Wimbledon…
ANDY MURRAY: No, I felt coming to this tournament I felt much better than I had done maybe going into slams in the past. I felt more comfortable with myself. But today when you’re playing for a Grand Slam and it’s something I haven’t done before, my mentality wasn’t, Well, I won the Olympics, so today is going to be a breeze and I’m going to deal with the situation really well. You know, I was very nervous in a couple of hours leading up to the match.
Q. The fact you had to fight so hard, the quarters, the semis, beating three tough opponents in a row, and then Novak, does that make the win any more sweet?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think well, I mean, however I got my first slam after the losses I have had, it was going to feel great. But this tournament, I didn’t really feel like I played my best. I felt like, you know, the matches maybe sometimes because of the conditions, you just have to try and find a way and get through. But, yeah, I mean, the final today, I think it meant more to me winning it in fourandahalf hours and the fiveset match and having been up two sets to nothing and him coming back, you know, will have meant more to me because of that.
Q. You have ticked off various things obviously with two massive wins. Would becoming world No. 1 about be the next target in your only personal performance?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, all players, once you get near to the top of the game, that’s one of the goals is to try and get to the world No. 1. I can’t say this year it’s necessarily possible for me to do it because I didn’t have a particularly good clay court season and I didn’t do well in the Masters Series in Cincinnati and Montreal and also in Indian Wells. I had too many losses early in those tournaments. But that is the next step. To do that, you need to be consistent throughout the whole year. That’s something that Novak and Roger and Rafa have done incredibly well the last few years. He made it very, very difficult for guys to get up there. I’m definitely going to try. It’s something I’d love to do, to get to No. 1. It’s a very tough thing to do.
Q. Other than the fan support that you get at Wimbledon and the Olympics, have you ever had this much support on the road? And were you prepared for Djokovic perhaps to be the fan favorite tonight?
ANDY MURRAY: I always had very good support in New York since I came the first time. I mean, I was 18 at the time when I played the seniors here the first time. I always had really good support. Tonight I didn’t you know, I had no real expectations of who they would rather win, you know, but I think they wanted to see a great match. You know, they wanted to see a long match. At the start, they were supporting us fairly equally. Then the third and fourth sets they seemed to be going for him a bit more. Then the beginning of the fifth, you know, the support was back with me. It was, yeah, it was just quite up and down. I think they have obviously seen a lot of tennis here. They wanted to see a great match. Yeah, the support at the end and the atmosphere we got to play in tonight was incredible.
Q. Since you’re dreaming about winning your Grand Slam, did you make any promise to yourself what happened if I won a Grand Slam? Can you share it? When you started the coachathlete’s relationship, did you make a promise to Ivan if I win a Grand Slam…
ANDY MURRAY: No. Knowing him, you know, after we will have a chat about the match tonight and then we will be discussing, unfortunately, the practice schedule for the next few weeks before the tournaments in China. (Laughter.) But, I mean, in the past before some of the slams, like in Australia and stuff, I had spoken to the guys I worked with and said, you know, If I win, we will do this. One of them was jumping out of a plane. One of them was everyone had to shave their heads. But, yeah, for this one, we had none, unfortunately.
Q. The late great Fred Perry was a great earthy guy; didn’t exactly come through in a traditional British way. If you could be magically sitting down with him in a back room over here chatting for a moment or two, what would you say to him and what do you think he’d say to you?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, obviously I don’t know. I never got the chance to meet him. But it would have been nice to have spoken to someone from Britain that had, you know, won major tournaments before. That definitely would have helped me if I would have got the chance. But, you know, I used to wear his clothing line when I was growing up. Yeah, I mean, I’m sure he’s smiling from up there that someone has finally managed to do it from Britain. Yeah, I’m very, very happy, and I just hope it’s not a long, long way I hope I can see another British player in my lifetime win a Grand Slam.
Q. You never heard about BBC radio? He was on the radio. That was before your time?
ANDY MURRAY: I think so, or I may have been a very young kid. But I haven’t heard him on the radio.
Q. Talking about smiles, there was a moment when you and Ivan Lendl were able to smile together after the match. Did he tell you anything that you can tell us after this match?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I saw all of the guys in the locker room afterwards, and, yeah, I saw him. He just said, you know, I’m proud of you; well done. We had a hug. Then someone sprayed champagne all down my back and over him. I think it was Danny. That kind of ended that. He started swearing. (Laughter.) Yeah, and that was that.
Q. During the past two weeks I don’t know if anyone worked harder than you on the practice courts. What drives you to work so hard?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, moments like this, I think. That’s why we do it. It’s why we play the game and put all the work in off the court. You know, if I hadn’t trained hard I wouldn’t have been able to last. My match a couple of days ago was four hours; today it was four and a half hours. So that’s really what it’s for, for moments like this. Sometimes you question whether it’s all worth it and I have done that a few times but after the summer that I have had, you realize that it is worth it. There’s only one way to get where you want to be, and that’s with hard work and dedication.
Q. You talked about the doubts that you have had. What have you proved to yourself today?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I proved that, you know, I can win the Grand Slams. I proved that I can last fourandahalf hours and come out on top against, you know, one of the strongest guys physically that tennis had probably seen especially on this surface. So they would probably be the things that I would say I have learned tonight. But, you know, to not doubt myself physically and mentally from now on. You know, I’m sure that would have a positive impact in the future.
Q. The easy play for us is to say that Ivan was a game changer for you. Was he? If so, how? What do you think was the key?
ANDY MURRAY: I think he definitely helped, that’s for sure. I mean, it’s hard to say in terms of a percentage how much difference he will have made. There was a lot of people that around the middle part of this year didn’t think that it was working well and I wasn’t learning from him that it wasn’t just, you know, a good situation. But, you know, I have enjoyed working with him. I have listened to him a lot. You know, he’s definitely, definitely helped. Having him in your corner for any player would be a big bonus. Not many guys have won as much as he did want to go into coaching or want to be around tennis. I think because he had such a long break after he finished, you know, he wanted to get back into it. I think he’s enjoying it. You know, he was obviously one of the most successful tennis players ever. You know, I’m sure it gave a little boost to his ego tonight, as well, that I won today, you know, after just sort of nine months with him. (Laughter.) It’s been great so far, and I hope we can keep working well together.
Q. Is there a certain message he gave you, Be more aggressive? Toughness? What?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think it was the thing just to try to keep going for my shots and giving 110%, you know, not leave anything out there on the court, because, you know, he knows how hard Grand Slams are to come by and how hard you need to work to give yourself a chance to win them. You don’t want to, you know, step off the court not doing yourself justice. I felt maybe couple years ago in Australia a couple of years ago when I played Novak in the final there I didn’t necessarily do, and that hurt me a lot. That’s probably why I struggled for a few months afterwards. If I had lost tonight it would have hurt a lot, but I would have known I would have tried my best and given it 110%. That’s what he asks of me. If I do that, then he’s happy.
Q. You spoke a lot about the enormous relief you’re feeling at the moment. How do you think this might change you either as a person or in the way you do business on the court?
ANDY MURRAY: I hope it doesn’t change me as a person. That would be a bad thing. I think on the court, you know, hopefully if I get into situations like this in the future I won’t be having all the doubts that I was having before the match today. I will maybe just be a little more confident than I was before this tournament. That’s actually it. You know, I hope it doesn’t change too much. You know, I’m still gonna going to have all the same friends and family and stay in the same house and train in the same places. Nothing much is going to change in that respect. There may be a few more busy press conferences now and a little bit more demands on my time, but that’s part of the job and that’s worth it.
Q. Getting married?
ANDY MURRAY: Justin’s told me all about married life, and he said it’s not all that…
Q. It’s way tougher.
ANDY MURRAY: No. Well, I don’t have any plans for it just now.
Q. Yesterday Victoria Azarenka said after losing to Serena that she felt blessed to play in the era of Serena Williams, a woman who has beaten her 10 out of 11 times. She said the reason she felt blessed was because it drove her to raise her level of tennis beyond what she was otherwise. You are playing in an era of greatness as well. There has been conversation about you breaking into the strata of Roger and Rafa and Novak. Novak said he felt privileged to play in this era. Talk about that and what it means to do what you have had to do to crack into what you have done tonight?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I have always said that, you know, playing against these guys makes you much better. When you see physically how strong someone like Rafa is, I played him many times, you know, that drives you. You see also how hard he works. That makes you realize what you have to do nowadays, I think, to get to the top of the game and to compete with those guys. You know, I obviously played Roger many times, as well. You know, just the way that he plays, the consistency that he’s shown over the last whatever, seven, eight, nine, ten years, I think it’s going to be tough to see that again. Obviously Novak, the last few years, you know, you see the way he moves around the court. He took things I think especially on a hard court to a new level. Yeah, I’m very happy to be part of this era in tennis. I think everyone probably in here would agree it’s one of the best ever. I think playing against them has made me improve so much. You know, I always said that maybe if I played another era maybe I would have won more, but I wouldn’t have been as good a tennis player. I think that’s how you should be judged at the end of your career, not just on how much you’re winning but on the people you’re competing against and how good a player you actually were. Those guys are some of the best of all time.
Q. A few minutes ago you spoke of this being a long journey. What gives you the most satisfaction now of what you have overcome during that journey?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. I mean, I think probably, I mean, proving to myself that I could do it. Like I said, there are times where you don’t really think you know, I’m sure there are a lot of people that thought you know, I have been questioned when I was younger. I didn’t work hard enough and, you know, that I wasn’t mentally strong enough and I didn’t listen to my coaches and stuff. You know, I always did listen to my coaches. I just was very immature sometimes on the court. I have tried to improve that side of things. Yeah, I think I just proving to myself is probably the most pleasing part about tonight, because there are times when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it.
Q. There were a lot of extraordinary points, sort of another aspect of this era, all the great defense. How does the body feel after fourandahalf hours of that?
ANDY MURRAY: It definitely feels a lot better when you win. (Laughter.) You know, on this surface especially things hurt a lot in the morning. I actually normally when I play on hard courts take painkillers most days before matches. Actually today was the only day I took any painkillers during the tournament. I felt really good for the most part in terms of, you know, my joints and stuff. But it does take a lot out of the body, and this is for sure the most demanding surface. You know, you can wake up with stiff back, hips, knees. I can’t do it, but the way Novak slides on the court I’m sure his ankles and stuff are pretty sore in the morning. But, yeah, I actually feel fine just now. I think maybe because it wasn’t that warm out there. I feel fine just now. I felt fine at the end of the match. Hopefully I would have been able to go a little bit longer.
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