Andy Murray wins the 2012 US Open

From Andy Murray‘s autobiography Seventy-Seven:

[…] 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.

Andy Murray, 2012 US Open

From Andy Murray‘s autobiography Seventy-Seven:

The two main stadiums here are called Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong. One I love, the other I have never felt comfortable on. I just don’t like Armstrong and never have. Each time I’ve played on it I’ve struggled, and the 2012 championship was a case in point. I started strongly enough, beating Alex Bogomolov and Ivan Dodig in the first two rounds on Ashe and then had to play Feliciano Lopez of Spain over on Armstrong. And the jinx almost held because I couldn’t really settle properly. It can get breezy on the big courts; on Ashe it generally blows from the President’s Box end and you get used to that, but on Armstrong, where there’s no sense of being enclosed, the wind swirls and moves in different directions. You are most exposed to the sun playing day matches on Armstrong, too, and it can be so bright that tracking the ball gets really hard.

The grandstand in the Arthur Ashe Stadium gives more shelter from the wind and it’s built so that the sun moves across early in the day, providing plenty of shadow and shade. On Armstrong the sun is on the players for the whole day and it’s really intense. That made it difficult for me to settle, but the fact is that Lopez is not much fun to play. He had Alex Corretja, a former coach of mine, in his box.
As a result, I struggled physically, but somehow it was one of those matches that I found a way to win. I didn’t feel right at all, but somehow I got through. I used to be able to do that a lot of times in all the regular tournaments I played on tour and managed to get a really high degree of consistency throughout the year. However in the Slams that wasn’t necessarily the case. Now I’ve learned how to cope in situations when the pressure is on. I think about how my opponent might be feeling. I understand it all much better than I did before.

In the fourth round, I played well against a new big gun on the tour, Milos Raonic of Canada. We were playing on Ashe at night, which I really like. The conditions seem kinder in the evening and that was one of those really good nights. I read his serve well from early on and seemed to be able to anticipate everything he was going to do. That night I was quick and in command.

For the quarter-final against Marin Cilic of Croatia, the game was back on Armstrong and the pressure was really on. Cilic made sure that I felt it from the start, taking the first set and going on to take a 5-1 lead on the second.
When I got the first break back in that second set, we both sensed how important the next couple of games would be. And I started to feel that he was getting nervous. After that, I played on pure instinct. I got to balls I hadn’t been reaching before, chased everything down and got back into the match the hard way.
Perhaps if he hadn’t got nervous I wouldn’t have won, but there were nerves for me too. If you sense the opponent is tightening up and think, ‘I can get back in here, this is my chance’, the pressure increases on you. The guys who are behind aren’t the ones who tend to rush. They have all the time in the world, which is why it was surprising to see him hurry and make mistakes. It wasn’t as if I was blasting winners all over the court, so much as making as many balls as I could. Little by little, I started to reclaim the middle of the court, and he started to miss. That was it.

The semi-final against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on Ashe was a freak show. There were high winds, which it’s all about who hits the ball best that day. It was about who could manoeuvre the ball around and come up with the right shots and the smartest shots. I feel like I have a bit more variety in my game than Tomas, so the conditions helped me and hindered him more than me. It was almost comical because of the wind conditions and I was laughing a little inside at how ridiculous the points were. All the same, it was semi-final of the US Open, and it was a great opportunity.
I aced Berdych when the ball bounced twice before it reached him. That has never happened the whole time I’ve been on the tour, but there was stuff taking place put there that had never happened in my entire life. If you had wanted to, you could easily have spun the ball from your opponent’s court back onto your own side because the breeze was so strong.
Playing a proper point became impossible and, in all the chaos, I managed to lose the first set. After that, I felt like I was cruising. I took the second and third sets easily and I had two break points in the fourth. Then Berdych started to serve and volley with much greater consistency, coming into the net more. After that, things changed quickly. I was 5-7 6-2 6-1 up and he had enough break points to put me 5-1 down in the fourth. That was the point when I started the fight back and ended up taking it to a tie-break.
I went 5-2 down in that and realized that I’d gone from a commanding position to win the match to one where it looked likely to go into a fifth. I’d had the momentum with me, and then I was on the verge of blowing it through my bad play and his consistency. The conditions were ridiculous, but that’s no excuse because it was the same for both of us. It was so, so difficult, but I was fought back and won, I was just pleased to get it over and done with.

My post-match conference took a surreal turn. I knew that both Sir Sean Connery and Sir Alex Ferguson had been at the match, but I wasn’t expecting to suddenly be confronted by both of them. I had spoken to Sean Connery on the phone before the game, but I’d never even met Alex Ferguson. That made it a weird situation and, to be honest, I didn’t know what to say to either of them. Both are quite intimidating presences in their own way. I’ve seen Sir Alex on TV so many times and it seems like he’s really intense. You get the feeling that if you say the wrong thing when he’s doing his job, he’s going to bite your head off.
But he came to the press conference with a massive smile on his face. He was really relaxed – I think he might have had a couple of drinks – so it was cool.

Andy Murray, London Olympics

From Andy Murray’s autobiography, Seventy-Seven

Beijing was one of the best experiences I’d ever had as an athlete. To be involved and part of the team, to go to the opening ceremony, and to speak to many gifted, wonderful sports people – I absolutely loved it. But then I lost in the first round to Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan.

When I weighed myself the night after my loss, I discovered I’d lost five kilos since leaving Cincinnati a week before. I was completely dehydrated. I had not been a professional in my approach because I was so excited at being part of the Olympics. I knew that when London came around my attitude had to be different. I was never going to make the Beijing mistake again. I had forgotten I was there to win matches for the country, because I was enjoying the experience so much.

I didn’t think that going to the opening ceremony in Beijing would affect me. It was only in hindsight that I realised I had used tremendous amounts of energy, speaking to loads of people and enjoying the whole occasion. For some participants that is what the Olympics should be about, but I know how disappointed I was to lose so early because I had a chance to do well for the country and I blew it.

I would have loved to have gone to the London 2012 opening ceremony – it turned out to be the most spectacular event – but it was the wrong thing to do from a professional perspective. I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
However, I was among the fortunate people nominated to carry the flame on its journey across the nation. That was a tremendous privilege. OK, I was only able to carry it inside the confines of the All England Club, but there were memebers and players in attendance – I remember Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych cutting short their practice sessions to come and watch me receive the flame.

My first match against Stanislas Wawrinka was a really tough one. I had been practicing with him so often beforehand .. and killing him actually! In those ten days, I think I had won every practice set and I had just felt great generally.[…]

I watched as many of the other sports as I could when I wasn’t playing, and I wanted to try to be a part of that success. When I lose at the Wimbledon Championships, there isn’t usually anyone else left for British fans to support; if I’d have lost at the Olympics, there was still Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Chris Hoy. If I had lost, I doubt whether people would have spent much time talking about it, because there were so many other exciting things going on elsewhere to concentrate on.

The night before playing in the final, I watched Ennis, Farah and Greg Rutherford all win gold in Olympic Stadium. The atmosphere was outrageous, it was crackling. The country was alive with optimism, there was momentum and everyone was so positive, from the spectators to the media.
In advance of the Games, the stories had all been about the prospect of terrible traffic problems, potential security problems and ticketing issues. People thought the opening ceremony would not be as good as in Beijing, but it proved to be an incredible spectacle.
Then a few days, it was all: ‘We haven’t won a gold yet’. Everything was negative again. But once the first gold arrived, then another, then a couple more, it all changed. There was nothing to complain about anymore and the whole nation was carried along on a wave of excitement. The athletes performed better than anyone was expecting – career-best performances, golds, silvers, glorious achievements – and I put a lot of that down to the positive momentum all around. As an individual sportsman, I’d certainly never experienced anything like it.

I managed to make good progress through my first four rounds, only losing one set to Marcos Baghdatis, who challenged me really hard again. Then, after I defeated Nicolas Almagro on No.1 Court, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge amongst the spectators, I was into the semi-finals to play Novak again. I spoke to Ivan the evening before and his lessage was the same as usual: to impose my game on the match, play the game on my terms and not to lose running around with my arse against the back fence.
I managed to execute the game plan, turning in one of my most complete performances of the year. In windy conditions I thought I struck the ball really well. In the first set there were some tremendous rallies, but the second set, by comparison, wasn’t quite as good. Novak had a lot of break points, but I served really well and hung tough in those moments and just managed to get the break myself in the end.
The atmosphere was unbelievable, different to anything I’d experienced before. I’d always said that the mnight matches at the US Open had the best atmosphere, but they weren’t even close to what it was like against Novak.
I celebrated victory in the normal way until I sat down in the chair. Suddenly, I leapt up again, as if electricity was surging through my body. I’d realised I had guaranteed myself an Olympic medal.

The final would be a rematch against Roger for Olympic gold.

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray

From Andy Murray‘s autobiography Seventy-Seven:

In the Olympics if you lose the final, you still get a silver medal. A runner-up trophy at a Slam doesn’t really compare with a silver medal. In the Wimbledon final, you have everything to gain and everything to lose at the same time. I had come through that semi-final against Janowicz and I knew I had a great chance of winning the final.

I was OK until the last 30 minutes before the match and then the nerves hit me again. I’m sure Novak, Rafa and Roger and their teams were nervous but the knowledge that they’d won Wimbledon before must have helped. Last year I lost and I did think that I might never get another chance to do it. For me, someone who has never won it before, and my support team, the nervousness is heightened. And that’s before you even think about it being my home Grand Slam and the extra expectation that entails.[…]

Then, finally, there is the walk to Centre Court. The one thing that helped me there is that I’ve walked through the corridor so many times. As soon as I started the walk, I felt better. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, the nerves eased. I know those hallways. I have sat on Centre Court, I have played numerous matches out there. I felt even better than the previous year. Walking to the court I could see people out of the window. People going up to the Hill, looking at their tickets, rushing to take their places. They looked happy. So I felt I should be, too.

The beginning of any match is really important, and even more so in a Grand Slam final. Statistics show that if you win the first set in a Slam final, you are much more likely to go and win the match. And this time, I had three break points in the first game. I wanted to get that break from 0-40, I was hitting the ball well from the back of the court, but I didn’t quite make it.[…]

The final was much as I expected it, full of deep-hitting, eneregy-sapping rallies, Novak striking the ball out of the middle, and both of us looking for that essence of authority. Winning the first set was going to be critical and, after I couldn’t convert any of my chances in the first game, I broke in the third with a backhand down the line, wrong-footing him. We had played 20 tortuous minutes and it was only 2-1. Then, in game four, I had three break points and took advantage of the second.
I immediately had Novak on the back foot on his serve again, earning three break points and taking the second. I hung on to my advantage this time, and when I eventually served out he set to love, I felt a rush. I had played the perfect service game and pretty much a perfect set.

I did get a bit defensive at the start of the second set and Novak pushed out to a 4-1 lead. At 4-2, I had two break points, but he won three in a row for advantage. I hung around in another long rally, broke his next serve and he double-faulted the game away. 4-3.
Four games to three became 4-4 and 5-5. At 15-all in the eleventh game, Novak got involved in a dispute with umpire Mohamed Lahyani about a baseline call – Novak thought the ball was out but there was no call and Hawk-Eye, so I’m told, said it was good. I had two break points and on the second, he netted. For the second time, I served out to love, this time finishing the set with an ace. Two sets to love up. A nice cushion but the job was nowhere near finished.[…]

At least the finishing line was in sight. I imagine that’s the same as when you reach the last kilometre of a marathon and you feel much better than you did five kilometres out because you know the end is close. In the same way, it is a lot easier to chase the balls down when you are only one set away from finishing the match rather than another two-and-a-half sets, which is what it was looking like at 4-1 down 15 minutes previously. I was now in a position where I could really put pressure on an try to close out the match.[…]

I felt I was beginning to read Novak’s intentions, even though I went from 2-0 up to 4-2 down in the third. I broke back, setting it up with a swinging forehand and he missed his backhand long. Then I held for four-all, with another of those running forehands to a backhand drop shot.
In the next game at 15-all, again I had to cover some ground. Novak played a drop shot, I could only flick it back, he played a lob, but I had the time to spin round and give chase and got enough of a racket on it to fire the ball at him before he could react. 15-30.
I suppose the next point was one of the most crucial. Novak struck a very solid forehand into my forehand corner which meant a scramble and a forehand ‘get’. He swept his backhand deep into the opposite corner, which I managed to get back as well, this time with interest. he could only play an off-balance backhand volley and i had read it, moving up the court for a forehand winner.

An explosion of noise. The crowd was right in my head now. I could sense their support, their desire, their drive. I wanted to get them over the line. I was blowing hard, but so was Novak. When he netted a forehand on the next poin point, I remeber him walking back to the chair and looking at him for a split-second. He kicked out at his racket bag. He was suffering. I was about to serve for Wimbledon.

A few fraught minutes (and deuces) later, the title was mine.

Andy Murray and Fernando Verdaco, Wimbledon 2013

From Andy Murray‘s autobiography Seventy-Seven:

Having won the Olympic gold medal and the US Open the previous year, I expected to go into Wimbledon with a bit more confidence, but the feelings of nervousness and stress were still the same. Maybe after the US Open, I felt that playing a Slam wouldn’t be the same arduous challenge anymore because I had won one, but for 99 per cent of the British population Wimbledon is the only one that really counts for the British players. I couldn’t change that. I felt that pressure.

Getting the first in under the belt can be the trickiest at Wimbledon. I am always nervous before the opening match because the court plays differently for a couple of days; it is extremely green and tricky underfoot. So I was really pleased to put in a decent first-round performance against Benjamin Becker.

Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal went out in the first round to Steve Darcis of Belgium and Roger Federer was beaten in the second round by Sergiy Stakhovsky from Ukraine (the guy I had beaten in the US Open junior final in 2004). Both Rafa and Roger were in my half of the draw and as soon as they were out, all the media talk about how tough it was going to be for me suddenly turned. ‘This is Andy’s Wimbledon to win.’ ‘If he doesn’t get to the final it will be a catastrophe.’ That’s why I never get obsessed with draws. But it is hard to block out that sort of talk and avoid complacency.

The fact that a lot of players were slipping and sliding on the courts in difficult conditions was also a concern. Against Lu Yen-hsun in the second round, I didn’t feel comfortable at all. My movement was stiff and tentative. I was also playing on No.1 Court which plays a little differently to Centre Court so I wasn’t settled. I felt anxious throughout, but managed to get through in straight sets.

The win set up a third round meeting with Tommy Robredo of Spain, the number 32 seed and a very fine player. We played under the roof on Centre Court which changes the conditions somewhat. It gives the court slightly different characteristics, which was something I needed to use to my advantage. I think I did a good job; it was my best match of the tournament.

Saturday afternoon brought some light relief as I got the opportunity to meet again some of my fellow Team GB Olympians, who had been invited into the Royal Box for the day. It was great to see some familiar faces, all decked out in the box, so after a quick switch of clothes from my practice gear into a suit and tie, I walked out to an ovation that was one of the most profound of my life. These are not the kind of occasions I particularly relish – I don’t know quite what to do or say, but everyone wanted to shake hands, have their pictures taken, say a few encouraging words. That was special for me. My spirits were rising all the time.

On Monday, I felt really good in defeating the Russian Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets. My quarter-final opponent would be Fernando Verdasco of Spain, a left-hander, the first time I had played one since Feliciano Lopez in the third round of the 2012 US Open.
It might not be easy for the layman ot understand why, but playing lefties is very different because of their variety of spins and angles. And when Verdasco is having a good serving day – as he was this time – he is a daunting challenge.[…]

Even though it was a five-setter, there was not too much running involved – only three kilometres over three-and-a-half hours. Many of the points were quick ones. After the match, I was more mentally than physically tired. The whole affair was really draining and emotional. Often guys come back from two sets to love down and end up losing that fifth set because it is hard to keep that concentration and not have a dip for a few games. Luckily I didn’t do that in the fifth and it was great to know I could come back to win without playing my best tennis.

In the semi-finals, I was drawn to play Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. He had been one of the stories at the end of 2012, racing through the field at the Paris Masters indoor event to reach the final and his ranking shot up as a consequence. He beat me in that tournament – I had match point, but didn’t follow through with a shot when I had a chance.

No one could predict how Janowicz would feel playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final. I know from experience that you feel so close to a final, but it also seems a huge distance away. […]
My opponent hit a 139-mph ace in his first service game, a statement of intent. Against someone like Janowicz it is important to let them know you mean business, that whatever they do, you are right in there with them, not prepared to give an inch.
I lost the first set on a tie-break. It was clumsy on my part but it was only one set. I broke his first service game in the second set. It was past eight o’clock and I could sense he was getting agitated by the gradually worsening light. It was perfectly playable but he kept on chuntering to the umpire about it. When I won the third set from 4-1 down, which he wasn’t happy about (neither was I that I let him have such a lead), he was going at the umpire again. I didn’t see Andrew Jarrett, the referee, walking on to the court, but I suddenly sensed his presence.

‘We’re going to close the roof,’ he told me.

I just thought he had to be kidding. Just because Janowicz is moaning about the light, we close the roof? Why? I wanted him to explain the rule to me but, as far as I recall, all he said was,

‘It’s the fairest thing to do… I’ve decided to close it.’

Back in the locker room, Janowicz was soon on his mobile phone, which was pretty hilarious when I come to think about it. It wasn’t a quiet conversation either, he was pretty agitated. I just sat down with my team, had a shower, and got ready to come back out to play. Anyone would be a little angry at the circumstances. I had the momentum and the light was good enough to play. It was 8.40pm, hardly night-time at that time of the year. There was at least half an hour of playable light left.

But I knew I had to put that grievance behind me. I had a job to finish. I wanted to win the match and win it now. And I was pleased with how quickly I settled down when we went back on court. I played a really good fourth set.
And so I was into the Wimbledon final again, against Novak. it was a match-up I was beginning to relish.