FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. (Sports Network) – British star Andy Murray outlasted defending champion Novak Djokovic in five sets to capture his first-ever Grand Slam title in Monday’s epic men’s final at the U.S. Open.
Murray gave Great Britain its first male Grand Slam champion in 76 years, or since the legendary Fred Perry captured the U.S. Championships way back in 1936.
The third-seeded Murray held off the second-seeded former world No. 1 Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 on a breezy day and evening at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The Dunblane, Scotland native Murray had been 0-4 in his previous major finals.
In a war of attrition that featured plenty of power, long rallies and brilliant shot-making, Murray managed to prevail in 4 hours, 54 minutes, which ties the record for the longest-ever final at the U.S. Open.
The deciding fifth set saw Murray open with a break, and he raced out to a 3-0 lead en route to the finish line.
Djokovic got a break back and then consolidated it with a hold to pull within 2-3, but Murray won the next four games to finally secure that elusive major championship.
Murray broke Djokovic to go up 5-2 in the final stanza and Djokovic then summoned a trainer to work on his sore right groin.
A determined Murray converted on his second championship point when Djokovic sent one final forehand long at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It was incredibly tricky conditions,” a relieved Murray said. “I don’t know how I managed to come through.”
Djokovic, of course, fought gallantly in a losing effort.
“Well, it wasn’t meant to be, but I want to congratulate Andy for winning his first Grand Slam, he deserves it,” Djokovic said. “I gave it all and it was another tremendous match to be a part of.”
Djokovic tried to become the first man in 63 years to overcome a two-sets-to- love deficit in the U.S. Open final. Pancho Gonzales came all the way back to beat Frederick Schroeder in 1949.
Murray snuck out an ultra-tight first set by converting on his sixth set point to cap a U.S. Open final-record 22-point tiebreak. The good friends battled for 1 hour, 27 minutes to decide the opening stanza, with the tiebreak alone taking 25 minutes to complete.
The second set also wound up being a very tight affair, although it didn’t start out that way.
Murray charged out to a seemingly-comfortable 4-0 lead in the second behind a pair of breaks, but Djokovic fought back to eventually tie the stanza at 5- all.
Two games later, however, Murray managed to sneak out the second when Djokovic misfired wide on a loose forehand.
Murray now enjoyed a two-sets-to-love lead, but Djokovic wasn’t going anywhere on Day 15 of the fortnight.
The Serbian star dominated the third set to get on the board and put some pressure on the front-running Brit.
Djokovic continued to have the better of the play in the next set, which he opened with a break and never looked back. The sixth game of the stanza, which was won by Djokovic, featured a brilliant 30-shot rally, which was won by Murray with an easy forehand winner, as Djokovic tumbled onto the court.
The Australian Open titlist Djokovic claimed the fourth set to level the match when a frustrated Murray sent an errant backhand long.
The 25-year-old Murray picked up his first win in his fifth Grand Slam final. He was also this year’s Wimbledon runner-up to Roger Federer and gave way to Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open finale.
The 25-year-old Djokovic was riding a 27-match hardcourt Grand Slam winning streak, with his last loss coming at the 2010 U.S. Open final.
For a second straight year, Djokovic played in three of the four major finals. He captured the Australian Open in January and was June’s French Open runner- up to Rafael Nadal.
Murray captured Olympic gold at the London Games last month by upsetting Federer in the final at the All England Club.
The Belgrade native Djokovic is now 5-4 in his career Grand Slam finals. He bested Nadal in last year’s finale in New York, lost to Nadal in the final here two years ago, and was the 2007 U.S. Open runner-up to Federer.
Murray improved to 3-2 versus Djokovic this year. Djokovic won in the semis of the Australian Open and in the final at the Miami Masters, while Murray claimed semifinal wins in Dubai and the Olympics.
The only previous Grand Slam final between the two ended with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 Djokovic rout at the 2011 Aussie Open.
Djokovic still leads their lifetime series, 8-7.
This marks the first year since 2003 that there were four different male Grand Slam winners — Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray.
Murray now owns 24 career titles, including three this season.
His first-place check is worth $1.9 million, while Djokovic took home $1 million, which included a $500,000 bonus as the result of winning the U.S. Open Series leading up to the final major of the year.
The men’s final was held on a Monday in Flushing for a fifth straight year due to weather-related issues this past weekend.
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