Andy Murray beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in five sets to win the U.S. Open, becoming the first British man to win a Grand Slam tennis event in 76 years.
Murray, 25, the No. 3 seed from Scotland, topped second- seeded Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in a four-hour, 54-minute match at the National Tennis Center in New York that was delayed a day because of rain. It was the fifth straight U.S. Open men’s final pushed to a Monday conclusion because of weather.
Murray earned $1.9 million for the win in Arthur Ashe Stadium, bringing his career prize money to more than $23 million. Djokovic earned $950,000 and a $500,000 bonus for having won the U.S. Open Series.
Djokovic, 25, was the 2-5 favorite at the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book, translating to a 71 percent probability of a sixth major title for the Serbian. A successful $100 bet on underdog Murray yielded a $210 profit.
It was the first win for a British man at a major tennis tournament since Fred Perry won the U.S. National Championship - - the predecessor to the U.S. Open -- in 1936. Perry won 10 majors in all from 1933-36.
The win also broke a stranglehold on major titles by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, who combined to win 29 of the previous 30. Juan Martin Del Potro’s 2009 U.S. Open victory was the lone exception.
Murray’s breakthrough in his 28th Grand Slam event came after four runner-up finishes. He lost the final of the 2011 Australian Open to Djokovic and was beaten by Federer in three others: at the 2008 U.S. Open, in Australia in 2010 and this year at Wimbledon.
There were four service breaks in the first eight games of the opening set as the players tried to adjust to the swirling 16 mile-per-hour (26 kilometer-per-hour) wind. Playing tentatively instead of going for winners, the two men exchanged 54 strokes on one point in the sixth game of the 87-minute set. The tiebreaker lasted 24 minutes.
After Murray won the first-set tiebreaker on his sixth set point, he took a 4-0 lead in the second set by breaking Djokovic’s serve twice. The second-seeded Djokovic stormed back to win five of the next six games, only to have the third-seeded Murray break his serve again in the 12th game to win the set.
Murray’s earnings may increase “five- to 10-fold” with the U.S. Open victory, Alan Seymour, a professor of sports marketing at the U.K.’s University of Northampton, estimated.
“A win at the U.S. Open, coupled with his Olympic victory, will bring him untold riches and notoriety,” Seymour said in an interview shortly before the final.
Murray’s on- and off-court annual earnings are estimated at $12 million, according to Forbes magazine. He’s ranked No. 8 in Forbes’ list of best-paid tennis players published last month. Federer of Switzerland, who has won 17 major singles titles, is the sport’s top earner with $54.3 million. He’s followed by Nadal of Spain, the French Open winner who was absent from the U.S. Open with a knee injury, at $32.4 million. Maria Sharapova of Russia, the women’s French Open champion, is third with $27.1 million.
Since professionals began playing majors in 1968, the only other man who lost his first four Grand Slam finals is Ivan Lendl, who is now Murray’s coach. Lendl went on to win eight.
With the win, Murray, who took the gold medal at the London Games in July, also became the first man to win both a gold medal and the U.S. Open title since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988.
Murray called the three-set Olympic gold medal-winning victory against Federer “the biggest win of my life.”
Now Murray has a Grand Slam as well, moving past Nadal to become the ATP World Tour’s third-ranked player, and cementing himself among the elite in men’s tennis.
With assistance from Eben Novy-Williams in New York and Danielle Rossingh in London--Editor: Michael Sillup
© Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.