Murray's victory caps amazing summer for Britain

Associated Press Modified: September 11, 2012 at 7:48 am •  Published: September 11, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — After reveling in a rousing Olympic summer of sporting success, Britain awoke Tuesday to another major milestone: Finally, after 76 years of waiting, the country has a male Grand Slam tennis champion.

Andy Murray's five-set victory over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final Monday provided the perfect bookend to a summer in which a British rider won the Tour de France and British athletes scooped heaps of medals at the hugely successful London Olympics and Paralympics.

After losing in four previous Grand Slam finals, Murray outlasted defending champion Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after nearly five hours to become the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry captured the Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in 1936.

At last, for Britain, the "Fred Perry curse" has been broken — although until Murray wins Wimbledon, it won't be fully put to rest.

"Thank God that's over. Thank God we can let Fred Perry lie easy. Thank God for Andy Murray," wrote the Guardian newspaper website.

Fittingly, Murray's breakthrough came in a year when Britain has enjoyed its greatest sports summer of a generation — coinciding with national celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's "Diamond Jubilee" of 60 years on the throne.

In a message posted on Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "delighted Andy Murray is continuing a golden summer of sport by winning the U.S. Open. A truly great victory."

The summer began with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Then came the Olympics, where Britain recorded its best showing in 104 years with 29 gold medals (including Murray winning the men's singles) and 65 medals in all. Britain celebrated the close of the Paralympics on Sunday after winning 120 medals, including 34 gold.

More than 1 million people lined the streets of London on Monday to cheer the nation's Olympians and Paralympians in a two-hour parade to mark the end of the 2012 Games.

A few hours later, with most of the country asleep, Murray became the first man to win the U.S. Open and Olympic gold in the same year.

"The forecast of course was made yesterday that the great summer of British sport was over, but he's given us another immense prize to wake up to," said Cameron, speaking outside his Downing Street residence.

The victory came on the exact day — Sept. 10 — that Perry won the U.S. title in 1936. It also came in Murray's fifth Grand Slam final, following in the footsteps of his coach, Ivan Lendl, who lost his first four Grand Slam finals before winning eight major titles.

Nowhere was the impact of Murray's win felt more deeply than in his Scottish hometown of Dunblane, a cathedral town made infamous for a mass shooting in 1996, when a gunman killed 16 children and their teacher in an elementary school.

A noisy crowd of about 80 people packed into the bar at the Dunblane Hotel to watch the match that ended shortly after 2 a.m. British time, cheering wildly when Djokovic hit a forehand service return long on the final point.

Murray did most of his tennis training as a youth in Barcelona but remains fiercely loyal to his Scottish roots. Two other famous Scots — actor Sean Connery and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson — were among those in the stands cheering him on at Flushing Meadows.

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