Murray’s slam finals: Alive after five
Originally published on: 11/09/12 00:00
2008 US Open
Lost to Roger Federer 6-2 7-5 6-2
Charged with stopping 12-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer from making it a lucky 13, 21-year-old Murray wasn’t quite a rabbit caught in the headlights in his first Grand Slam final, but he couldn’t find a way to dent the armour of the imperious Swiss. With 36 winners to just 15 from Murray, Federer firmly bounced back from a lengthy bout of mononucleosis to pick up his fifth consecutive US Open crown. “I felt like I was invincible again,” said Federer, sentiments echoed by Murray. “[I] came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play,” he said. “He definitely set the record straight today.”
2010 Australian Open
Lost to Roger Federer 6-3 6-4 7-6
Murray faced the daunting task of taking on a Roger Federer fired by memories of an unexpected US Open defeat to Juan Martin del Potro in the previous slam, and the Swiss proved untouchable in the first two sets. Murray dug his heels in in the third but just when a revival looked like it might be in the offing, Federer rallied to save five set points before clinching his 16th Grand Slam at the third attempt after a thrilling 24-point tie-break. Defeat meant for an emotional aftermath for Murray who – just like the defeated Federer in 2009 – fell an unlikely victim to the waterworks. “I can cry like Roger, I just can’t play like him,” mustered the 22-year-old, before the victorious Swiss turned to him and said: “You’re too good of a player not to win a Grand Slam.”
2011 Australian Open
Lost to Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-2 6-3
Murray ran into an inspired Novak Djokovic, who kicked off what would amount to an astonishing year with a confident and classy display in his fourth Grand Slam final. A gruelling 59-minute first set laid the groundwork for a cracker, but its conclusion – when Murray made a forehand error at 4-5 – sounded an early death-knell as the fifth seed was simply outclassed in the two sets that ensued. Djokovic matched Murray’s movement step for step and raised him on power, producing a performance to which the previous year’s runner-up had no answer. “He had an unbelievable tournament and deserved to win,” admitted Murray.
Lost to Roger Federer 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
Murray became the first British man to reach a Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin in 1938. With the nation willing him to go one step further, the 25-year-old Scot responded to script, breaking twice – to one break-back from Federer – to clinch the opening set. No man had won a Wimbledon final from two sets down since Henri Cochet in 1927 and Murray had chances to force Federer to climb that mountain, but the ever-calm Swiss found a way to level things up. After two moments of brilliance that enabled Federer to break in the 12th game of the second set and level at one set all, two games in to the third set the heavens opened, the roof came into play, and from there on Federer had the edge despite Murray’s persistent efforts. After breaking in the sixth game of the fourth set, Federer brought up two Championship points in the ninth, crashing to the floor in ecstacy after Murray’s attempted pass dragged wide. “I couldn’t be more happy,” beamed the new world No.1, but it was Murray who stole the show with an emotional post-match speech. “I’m getting closer,” he managed, tearfully, to tremendous roars from the crowd.
2012 US Open
Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic 7-6(10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2
Buoyed by reaching his first Wimbledon final and winning Olympic gold, Murray polished off an incredible summer by lasting the distance to beat Djokovic in four hours and 54 minutes and win the US Open. His fourth Grand Slam event under the watchful eye of Ivan Lendl, Murray was a more mature force, utilising his controlled attack to take the first two sets inspite of strong winds inside Arthur Ashe. Djokovic hit back – as expected – to take the match to a decider but the Scot broke early in the fifth and, though he was broken back, did so again before serving out an historic triumph. “I think I lost one of my toenails – some of the rallies were brutal,” said Murray, while the conquered Djokovic admitted Murray was a worthy winner. “He’s deserved to win this Grand Slam more than anybody. He’s been so close; lost four finals. Now he has won it, so I would like to congratulate him.”