Andy Murray ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion with an epic victory over Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.
The Scot finally emulated Fred Perry’s 1936 achievement, winning 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in four hours 54 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Murray – the new world number three – ended Djokovic’s title defence and 27-match hard court winning run at majors.
It caps a fine year for the 25-year-old, who also won Olympic gold.
But this result will arguably have a greater impact on his career and the future of tennis in the United Kingdom.
Murray lost his first four Grand Slam finals – an Open era record he shares with coach Ivan Lendl – but like the Czech he has triumphed at the fifth time of asking.
“He’s one of greatest players ever to play, he made eight consecutive finals here,” Murray said of Lendl in his acceptance speech.
“Having him here supporting me has helped in the tough moments. But it’s not only him – everyone else too. They’ve been there since the start, thanks very much.”
While it is a dream of his to win Wimbledon, the British number one has long been tipped to make his breakthrough at Flushing Meadows.
He was the boys’ singles champion there in 2004, hard courts are his favourite surface and he enjoys the atmosphere in New York.
Murray is unlikely to ever forget the atmosphere inside the world’s biggest tennis arena as he celebrated his success.
A swirling wind made conditions troublesome for both players, but it was Murray who coped better in the first two sets.
“They were incredibly tricky conditions,” said the right-hander from Dunblane. “Novak is so strong, he fights until the end every of match and don’t know how I managed to come through in the end.”
After early breaks were exchanged, Murray struck again before moving 4-2 ahead following a game that included a 54-shot rally.
Djokovic rallied to force a tie-break, yet his opponent showed greater belief and converted a sixth set point with 87 minutes on the clock.
Murray roared with delight and carried his momentum into the second set, breaking an out-of-sorts Djokovic twice for a 4-0 lead.
A lapse in concentration allowed Djokovic back in and when the Serbian landed a majestic lob for 5-5, Murray clutched his left thigh.
There were no signs of injury, though, as Murray held to 15 and then forced a flurry or errors from the world number two, opening up a two-set lead for the first time in a Grand Slam final.
The crowed urged Djokovic to respond and he did – threatening in game one of the third set before making his move in game three.
Murray was now starting to berate himself and voice his frustrations in the direction of his player box, never more so than when two backhand mistakes saw chances squandered in game six.
He then fell a double-break down thanks to an incredible backhand on to the baseline from Djokovic, who easily closed out the set.
Djokovic looked revitalised, Murray weary, and the right-hander from Belgrade swiftly found himself 2-0 up in the fourth set.
Just when it seemed Murray might respond, Djokovic was called for a time violation and he angrily took his performance to a new level.
When Murray’s backhand broke down again, Djokovic leapt with joy and it seemed he could become the first man since Pancho Gonzales in 1949 to rally from two sets down to win the US Open.
But Murray had other ideas and made a devastating start to the decider, breaking in game one and consolidating it with some defensive play of the very highest order.
The third seed was in dreamland when Djokovic netted a forehand to hand over the double-break, only for a nervous Murray to immediately surrender one of his strikes with a timid backhand.
A love service hold put Murray back on track and he advanced to within one game of victory when Djokovic netted a forehand.
Murray served out the championship 79 years to the day – on the same court – that Perry won the first of eight major singles crowns.