Sir Andrew Murray got his title today by not only winning the 2012 US Open but defeating the 2011 champion in a five setter that CBS surprisingly stayed with for it's entirety. The Scotsman was cheered on by that symbol of Scottish manhood Sir Sean Connery who for a certain generation is the only actor who played James Bond that matters, and Sir Alex Ferguson, another quite famous countryman.
This was Murray's US Open to lose once he reached the semi finals. There was no Rafael Nadal. There was no Roger Federer. The only man standing in his way was Novak Djokovic.
Truth be told Djokovic had played poorly all year. Yes he won Australia in the beginning of the year but after that his play deteriorated. He'll always have 2011 but the true test of champions is that they not only find a way to win but find a way to climb the mountain year after year after year.
There was mild surprise in the tennis world when Murray, notorious for his foul temper and even fouler mouth, hired Ivan Lendl as his coach. Lendl had the reputation of a man who wouldn't take any shit and it was wondered if the relationship would last.
It has. And it has paid dividends. Lendl didn't crack a smile until the end of the match today and that is as it should be. There was no shucking and jiving, no idle chit chat on his part. Much like Antoni Nadal, Lendl was focused on his player and was there to make sure that all of the hard work paid off.
What struck me most of all was Murray's reaction after he won, shown in the picture just above. It was so low key. Yes he was happy. He went over to his box, limping all the way, and then sat down hard in his chair courtside. It'll all sink in tomorrow.
There was a lot going on in the match - the crowd's reaction to Djokovic's gamesmanship in calling for a trainer when Murray, up 5-2, was about to serve for the match for example. Everyone saw clearly what Djokovic was trying to do and expressed displeasure. Djokovic reacted by mocking the crowd, a crowd that had grown to tolerate if not love him. A leopard can't change his spots can it?
And there were Murray tantrums and soliloquies - it wouldn't have been Murray without them. But the big story was that he didn't give up. He fought for this title. He wasn't trying to make it pretty or be a hero. He simply wanted to win and in the end that is what he did.
The 2012 US Open Women's Final set the tone for the men's final. It was a war.
I said that I thought it would be a close match. It was. Serena Williams came out firing on all cylinders and blew through the first set. The second set was altogether different. Serena went on walkabout. Was it the foot fault call? Who knows. Serena will never say. All we as fans know is that for a set and a half Serena Williams was AWOL.
The woman across the net, WTA #1 Victoria Azarenka, took advantage of the lull and handled her business easily winning the second set and looked to be well on her way to winning her second Slam of 2012 when just as suddenly as it started Serena pulled herself together and began to hit the ball between the lines not outside of them. Serena, keeping herself under tight emotional control not wanting a repeat of what had happened to her in recent US Open's, gathered that tremendous will and eked out a third set victory.
I'm always baffled by Serena haters. Many thought she was being insincere when she said she had begun to think of what her remarks would be as runner up. I don't think she's ever been more sincere.
Serena shouldn't have won that match. She played the worst set and a half of tennis I've seen her play in recent memory (not counting the loss to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the French Open this year). And still when the dust settled Serena was commenting to her public as the winner.
In a year that saw her win Wimbledon singles and doubles, Olympic Gold in both singles and doubles, and now the US Open there is no doubt in my mind who the WTA Player of the Year is. At this point in Serena's career ranking ain't nothing but a number. She's playing for respect, for history. She's already considered the greatest of her generation, just as her father predicted a long time ago.