Andy Murray has recalled his “relief” at winning his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open – and the “surreal” experience of celebrating with Scottish knights Alex Ferguson and Sean Connery. Murray had lost his first four Major finals – three times to Roger Federer and once to Novak Djokovic.
And he let slip a two-set lead against the Serb in the final 10 years ago before ending British tennis’ 76-year wait for a male singles champion. After his breakthrough, Murray went on to win Wimbledon twice and become world No 1.
“That was a huge moment for me,” he said. “I’d been put under a lot of pressure to try and achieve that. A lot of what I’d achieved in my career up to that point felt, to me anyway, kind of irrelevant because of the questions I’d continued to get asked about winning Slams.
“Am I good enough? Am I fit enough? And I mentally strong enough? Lots and lots of questions over a period of time. It was nice to finally be able to move on from that because it’s not particularly helpful.
“And also the players I was competing against. Everyone is seeing them now as the three best tennis players of all time, certainly on the men’s side. It wasn’t easy to win Slams in this era – and I knew that. But I don’t think everyone else did.
“It was just such a big relief to get over that line. I was very proud of myself. I remember after the match going back on to the court – I just wanted to be out there on my own.”
Murray, then 25, was not left alone when the well-served Ferguson and Connery gatecrashed his press conference after winning his semi-final and returned for his victory celebration. “It was surreal,” said Murray. “I obviously didn’t know either of them particularly well at the time. It seems like a long time ago.”
Twelve months ago, the Scot lost a tempestuous first-round match to Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek took an eight-minute toilet break. The rules have since been changed to limit breaks to three minutes. But Murray said: “The toilet break rule has not really made much difference to be honest.
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“I don’t really think it’s a great rule. I like Stefanos; I have no problem with him. But I was really disappointed because I didn’t like the way that stuff was handled during the match and I think it was not right.”
The Scot did not want to speak after the five-set loss but revealed: “The referee and everyone said: ‘No, go into press and say what you think’. They agreed that the rule needed to change and at least they’ve done something about it. But I think they could probably have gone a bit further.”
Another rule change sees on-court coaching allowed at the US Open for the first time. But Tsitsipas, who has been hit with repeated violations for coaching by his father Apostolos, said: “It doesn’t change anything at all. It has always been this way for everyone. My coach has not been as discreet as other coaches, but it has been always happening.”
Murray, who reported his tests for all-clear after suffering from cramping, will play Argentinian 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in the first match on Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday.