2012 US Open: first Grand Slam title for Andy Murray
[…] Before the match was the worst I’ve ever felt by far. After I finished practising, I ate in the locker room. The guys went up to get some food and I found myself alone for 20 minutes, feeling sick with nerves and worry. A lot of people said that winning the olympics would mean the pressure was off, but they had no idea. I was sitting there and feeling really ill. I got up and moved around and tried to think about other stuff, which is why it’s useful to have people around me. They might be talking aout something else and though I’m still going to be thinking about the match, at least there’s a distraction. The more I started thinking about how big the match was for me, the more nervous I became.
Novak doesn’t usually stay in the locker room and seems to go elsewhere, although I don’t know where. There as no one else there apart from a couple of the attendants, and the physiotherapy room was closed because there was nobody left to treat. There were no doubles players in there, no mixed teams and the only sound was coming from the TV. The guy on there was saying that no one had ever lost their first five Grand Slam finals. I knew that, of course, but to hear it in those circumstances just added to my nerves.
I had spoken to Ivan about nerves before and he said that he found it especially hard before the US Open final, because you have the whole day to kill beforehand. He would go in, warm up, leave, play a round of golf, come back, warm up a little again and then play. He did say that he felt nervous before each of his finals, which I suppose is reassuring. Some people say that pressure is a privilege and you ought to enjoy it, but when you haven’t won one of those events it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. Ultimately, you have to believe that it’ll be fine win or lose, but because of the way that Wimbledon finished, a loss in this final could have been very tough?
When Novak and I finally walked out onto court, the wind was blowing strongly into our faces. The Bedych match had been ridiculous because the wind was going every which way, but at least this time it was coming consistently from one direction. It’s nomally good to play with the wind, but that day it was so strong. The balls are pretty light and from the President’s Box it was hard to keep the ball in court.
It felt like no time until we were involved in a first set tiebreak. Maybe it was one of those classics from the sidelines, but to actually play in it was a lot more trying, especially because both of us found that it was so much harder to execute the shots we wanted to. Novak had the odd chance, but it would have been tough to lose after having so many set points. I needed to win to have a realistic shot at winning the match. In the end, I took the tie-break 12-10. We’d already been playing for more than an hour.
At two sets to love up, I was elated but I couldn’t let myself relax. By the beginning of the third set, the wind had settled completely, ut when the wind calmed, I had the sense that it calmed him too. By that stage, I was just one set away from victory and feeling that with the conditions the way they were, they’d been a big help. He had been getting frustated, so when the wind died and the air stilled, he started to hit out on his shots with more confidence. He was more comfortable and moving better and that made me nervous.
Those nerves and Novak’s confidence changed the way I had to play the match. He won two sets, and I recall shouting out that my legs felt like jelly because they wouldn’t move where I wanted them to. Once I got that out of my system, I was OK again.
At the end of the fourth set, I decided to take a toilet break. There’s a toilet right there at the side of the court and I knew that by taking a break, all the people would be thinking: ‘He’s blown this one.’
When I was walking off, I was pretty down. We had been playing for four hours but what matters most is how much you’ve run, because you’re not moving for the entirety of the time. The temperature had dropped and even though there were long points, I was making him do most of the running. At the end of the fourth, I think he was struggling physically more than I was.
In the bathroom, I looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘I’m not going to lose this’ (well, something along those lines – I can’t remember the exact words). For me, it was about going back out ot gine 100 per cent and leave nothing behind. No regrets.
I came out and looked over at Ivan in the box. That fired me up because I wanted to win so badly, maybe more than him, if only because I’d never won before. I wasn’t going to let myself lose that match from that position, the way Wimbledon had gone.
I secured a break in the first game, when Novak missed a forehand after a net cord at 30-40. Then I made it a double break to put myself 3-0 up. He then got a break back. I haven’t watched much of the match on DVD, but I do remember that I had a great service game to love to lead 4-2 and then backed that up with a break to lead 5-2.
I had build it up so much in my head that it would be a big thing to serve for a Grand Slam, but when it came to it I didn’t feel that nervous. I had two breaks and when I looked up I could see the spectators were going nuts. I was feeding off all that energy. I was actually speaking to people in the crowd – I don’t know if it made much sense, it was probably just something to get me fired up. Even though I’d never been in that position before, even though I’d spent quite a bit of time wondering how it might feel, I felt oddly calm.
The score got to 40-love and I was about to win. I’ve been in that position loads of times and, 99 times out of 100, I hold serve. With the wind in my favour, I went to the wrong side to serve because I was concentrating so hard and I didn’t realize quite where I was. On the first Championship point, he threw up a lob, I got the rim of the racket to it and he hit a winner. On the next point, he smacked his return and I knew 100 per cent that it was out, but thought he’d challenge. I heard the call, saw the ball and my reaction was pure disbelief.
It took a while to understand what it meant to win the US Open. Maybe, after everything, it wasn’t as big as I had built it up to be, but I was so relieved to have finally done it, that I felt a mix of pure elation and disbelief. The one thing I would have liked to have done afterwards, in front of the TV cameras, was to thank everyone who has supported and worked with me, but time was too short. It was in the locker room that our celebrations began. There were hugs and kisses and I just remember there being lots of banter. Ivan was smiling more than I’d ever seen him smile and he told how poud he was of what I had done. He also said that I had shown great fighting spirit and played an excellent match, which, coming from him, as exactly what I wanted to hear. He didn’t want to join the rest of the team for dinner that night, but seemed to go home very happy.
We had a great night. I slept for about an hour, having read as many stories about the match as I could online before I finally drifted off, only to be woken by an early alarm call ready for a round of media appearances.
That night, I treated myself to an upgrade on the flight home. Everyone else my asleep and I just couldn’t make myself drop off. I had a glass of champagne, which I never do, and that became four. I actually mistook the soap in the bathroom for toothpaste because I was a bit giddy. If there were any bumps on the flight home, I certainly didn’t feel them.