Wednesday, September 12, 2012

US Open Tennis Championship 2012: Andy Murray Becomes First Male Slam Winner for Britain in 76 years

Men’s Title
British tennis was savoring its first male Grand Slam champion for 76 years but Andy Murray's extraordinary feat in New York on September 11 was actually the antithesis of decades of failure from the nation where the sport was born. Murray became Britain's first major champion since Fred Perry claimed his third US Open title in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War started and Franklin D. Roosevelt was reelected US president. Murray defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic to win an epic US Open final.

The Scotsman, beaten in his four previous Grand Slam finals, made it fifth time lucky with a nerve-jangling 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 victory at a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium where the players had to battle the elements as much as each other.

The 25-year-old, a survivor of the 1996 Dunblane school massacre, won a titanic first set that took almost an hour and a half to complete and ended in a 22-point tiebreaker, then added the second despite blowing a 4-0 lead.

Djokovic, already a five-times Grand Slam champion, rebounded to win the third set, then took the fourth to raise the prospect of becoming the first man since Pancho Gonzales in 1949 to win the final after losing the first two sets. However, the world number two was unable to conjure another fight back as his legs started to cramp and Murray wrapped up victory after four hours and 54 minutes, the same time it took Mats Wilander to beat Murray's coach Ivan Lendl in the 1988 final.

Olympic champion Murray served out the biggest win of his life a game later, lifting the honors on his second match point on a Djokovic forehand long. He won with 31 winners and eight breaks of serve from 17 chances. Djokovic got treatment for a groin injury on court prior to the last game as both players were severely tested in windy conditions.

Murray was playing his second New York final in four years after losing the first of his career in 2008 to Roger Federer. He established himself as a bona fide member of the ATP elite, winning six of his last seven matches against top 10 opponents.

The Scot’s victory ended his summer of success after playing the Wimbledon final against Federer and then beating the Swiss three weeks later in the London Olympic gold medal match. He is the first man to win the top Games medal and the US Open in the same season.

Women’s Title
Serena Williams won her 15th Grand Slam title and fourth career US Open Championship with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory over World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka on September 9. In the first three-set final at the US Open since 1995, American fourth seed Williams joined her sister Venus and Steffi Graf as the only women to win Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open in the same year.

The 13-year gap between Williams winning her first Slam title at age 17 at the US Open and now marks the longest span between first and most recent titles in US Open history and for any Grand Slam in the Open era that began in 1968.

No US Open women's final had gone to a third set since Steffi Graf went the distance to defeat Monica Seles 7-6 (8/6), 0-6, 6-3 some 17 years ago.

She missed eight months after having surgery on her left knee in 2003, the year she had completed a self-styled “Serena Slam” by winning four consecutive major titles. Of more concern: Only a few days after winning Wimbledon in 2010, Williams cut both feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant in Germany, leading to two operations on her right foot. Then she got clots in her lungs and needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. Those shots led to a pool of blood gathering under her stomach’s skin, requiring another procedure in the hospital. In all, she was off the tour for about 10 months, returning in 2011.

She won her first major title age 17 at the 1999 US Open. Winning titles 13 years apart at the same Grand Slam tournament represents the longest span of success in the professional era, which began in 1968. Martina Navratilova (Wimbledon, 1978 and 1990) and Chris Evert (French Open, 1974 and 1986) had the longest previous spans of 12 years.

Williams won prior US Open titles in 1999, 2002 and 2008 and added Grand Slam crowns at the 2002 French Open, the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 Australian Opens and Wimbledon in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Doubles Titles
Men’s Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan collected a record-equaling 12th Grand Slam men's doubles title on September 7 when they defeated Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4 in the US Open final. The second-seeded American brothers went level with Australia's John Newcombe and Tony Roche as the most successful partnership of all time, but out on their own as the best doubles pairing in the Open era.

The present win was their fourth at the US Open, following triumphs in 2005, 2008 and 2010. They also won the 2003 French Open, the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Australian Open titles as well as Wimbledon in 2006 and 2011.

India's Paes and Czech partner Stepanek had defeated the American duo in the Australian Open final earlier this year.

Women’s Doubles: In the women’s doubles, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci added to their career-best year with a US Open doubles championship.

The second-seeded Italians beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-2 on September 9 for their second Grand Slam championship and second in three months after they broke through at the French Open.

The best friends faced each other in the singles quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows, with Errani winning to become the first Italian women to reach the semis at this tournament in the Open era. Errani was also the runner-up in singles at Roland Garros. Vinci’s quarterfinal run this week was her best individual performance at a major championship.

Mixed Doubles: Pakistani tennis Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi failed to win his first Grand Slam doubles title when he and partner Kveta Peschke lost to Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan in the mixed doubles final. The US top seeds defeated Qureshi and his Czech partner 6-4, 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the crown. This was Bryan’s fourth US Open mixed doubles title in eight years, each of them coming with a different partner.

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