Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic battled through five sets in the 2012 US Open final.
At Wimbledon in 2012, Murray became the first British man to reach the final in more than 70 years. He lost the championship match to Roger Federer in four sets, but when he made his return to the All England Club for the Summer Olympics only a few weeks later, he came away with the gold medal, turning the tables on Federer in the final.
While his grass-court season was near perfect, the summer hard-court stretch leading up to the US Open didn’t go as planned. The Scot had to withdraw from the Canada Masters with a knee injury and in Cincinnati the following week, he fell to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Seeded third at the US Open, Murray soon dispelled any questions about his form as he only dropped one set in his first four matches. He was forced to rally from a set down in the quarterfinals and semifinals, but nevertheless prevailed to reach the final for the first time since 2008.
In the championship match, he’d face longtime rival Djokovic. The second seed and defending champion was dominant throughout the tournament, only losing one set over his first six matches.
Going into the championship match, some questioned Andy Murray’s place among the “Big 4,” which included Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Federer as he had yet to win a Grand Slam. Ivan Lendl, whom he brought in as his coach in 2012, dominated the men’s game for several years before capturing his first major in 1984.The three-time US Open champion had Murray playing more aggressive during their partnership, and that paid off in the match against Djokovic as he captured the first two sets.
Those were two close encounters, with Murray eking out a 12-10 tiebreaker in the first and then winning by 7-5 in the next set. It was only a year ago, though, in the semifinals against Federer that Djokovic mounted a comeback of near-epic proportions, rallying from two sets to love after looking out of the match early. Showing he wasn’t done yet, the Serb once again mounted another rally to take the next two sets and enter into another Grand Slam battle with Murray, having staged one at the beginning of the year in Melbourne.
Djokovic won that match then on his way to his fifth Grand Slam title. This time, though, he got in trouble early in the fifth set as Murray broke serve in the first game and again in the third. Nearly five hours after the first ball was struck and serving up 5-2, 40-15, in the decider, Murray drew a missed return from Djokovic to clinch the title, making him the first British man to win a Grand Slam in more than seven decades.
Murray became the third male player to win both the junior and senior title at the tournament after Stefan Edberg and Andy Roddick.
Like his coach, Murray lost his first four Grand Slam finals before breaking through. Lendl’s first major title came at the 1984 French Open, when he beat John McEnroe in five sets.
Djokovic’s final-round showing marked the 14th consecutive Slam he advanced to the quarterfinals or better.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias