I said it so. There is no better way to cap an Olympic gold medal than winning the US Open trophy. And these two 2012 London Olympic gold medalists did just that. Their stories and struggles differed a little bit but Andy Murray and Serena Williams just placed themselves into tennis’ history. The only other player who won in the Olympics and Grand slam tournament in the same year (1988) was Stefi Graf of Germany.
The women’s single match was played one day ahead on Sept. 9; 4:30pm ET (Sept. 10; 4:30am, Manila time) of the men’s single match. As a tennis player myself I felt the intensity of the game and the struggles made by the contending players.
I have one little frustration, though, in the Azarenka-Williams finals contest. I was really expecting for a tennis game that will be played like a championship game – meaning, we would see superb serves, hard-hitting returns and big winners from both players. Instead, we saw volley of errors committed by both players, but if that was any indication of tense play in a highly-charged championship game, then it does not deserve my frustration at all.
We saw William’s tenacity as a player in the first set when she outsmarted Azarenka in almost every move. Consequently, she won an easy first set (6-2). But things were quite different in the second set. Azarenka seems to have regained her composure and she was making better calculated moves and strokes in the second set. She has to show her mettle as the world’s no. 1 ranked player and this time she turned the table against Williams by winning the second set (6-2).
The third and final set was the decision game which proved to be equally challenging for both players. Serena was even on the brink of defeat when Victoria was serving for the match at 5-4, but it was Serena’s time to show that she was made of sterner stuff. She managed to hold on with a break and went through to the end at 7-5 to win the match. What an impressive record indeed for Serena Williams after claiming the Wimbledon trophy, the Olympic gold medal and the US Open trophy all in the same year. Final score: 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.
The men’s single final match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic was no less exciting. With Murray’s fourth final appearance in a grand slam tournament and Djokovic’s winning streak backed by 5 grand slam titles we can only expect both players to do everything at their best to win the US Open title.
It was obvious though that Andy Murray was the player who was hungrier for a grand slam title as he had never won any. And so, he played like no other and on top of his mind he was thinking that this could be it or never at all. He did everything to show that he wanted the trophy more than Djokovic and he was also handling the wind better than Djokovic. With all these efforts Murray got the first two sets (7-6, 7-5). At this point it seemed like an uphill battle for Djokovic. The only tennis player who had managed to come back and win from a 2-0 deficit was Jack Kramer in 1949. Djokovic’ fans and supporters were hoping that he would be the second tennis player in the history of the game to do that.
With these set points and the momentum of his game, many thought that Murray would make it in three straight sets but the Serbs showed that it would not be that easy for Murray. Djokovic indeed managed to come back and showed that he could trade wits with Murray under that windy evening in Flushing Meadows (New York). This time the two players were more careful as shown by long rallies cap by a record 54-shot one, where Djokovic prevailed and got the third and fourth sets (6-2, 6-3).
Then came the fifth and final set where the two men fought furiously, each of them wanting to claim the US Open title for a reason or two – Djokovic to defend his title and to complete his sixth Grand slam title in a row; and Murray to cap an Olympic gold medal with a US Open trophy and to become the second Briton in tennis history to win in the US Open after 76 years. The last English man to win the US Open was Frederick John Perry in 1949. Perry was also a world table tennis champion in 1929 (Wikipedia).
Who was hungrier and more determined to win? The final result said it and as if Andy Murray heard me from the other side of the Globe saying: “Hey c’mon man. Be like Serena Williams; cap your Olympic gold medal with a US Open trophy”. And that’s exactly what Andy Murray did. Besides, he can’t afford to frustrate the original James Bond, Sean Connery – a fellow Scottish, cheering to his side!
After a grueling 5-set match in a span of 4 hours and 54 minutes Andy Murray got it for more reasons than Novak Djokovic. This final match was one minute shy of the longest match in the history of the US Open. Andy Murray’s first Grand slam title finally came in more preferred fashion albeit dramatic and overdue.
Congratulations Andy Murray (Great Britain, ranked no. 3) and Serena Williams (U.S., ranked no. 4). They will surely go up notches higher when the final ranking will be released on September 11, 2012.