Andy Murray finally won his first Grand Slam title on September 10, 2012, becoming the first Briton to win a Grand Slam tournament since 1936, and capping an incredible summer that saw him sweep aside Roger Federer to win Olympic tennis gold in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
After powering to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over his Swiss opponent at Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court – where weeks previously Federer had beaten him in the men’s singles final – Murray described the win as “the greatest of my life”.
Though Murray has a winning 9-8 record against Federer, including six victories out of seven in a run from 2006 to 2009, Federer had won their two previous meetings in Grand Slam finals – making the comprehensive nature of the Scot’s victory all the more remarkable.
After seeing off Novak Djokovic in the semi-final, he gave world number one Federer problems from the outset, breaking serve in the sixth game and serving two aces on his way to wrapping up the first set.
A rare Federer double fault allowed Murray to stamp his authority on the second set, and in the final set he dropped just one point on serve as he thundered towards the top step on the podium.
The 25-year-old became the first British man to win the Olympic singles gold medal since Josiah Ritchie in.
Having exited the men’s doubles competition with his partner, brother Jamie, Murray had his eye on a gold double in the mixed doubles final later that day with partner Laura Robson, but they couldn’t get the better of Belarusian top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi and took silver after a tie-break decider.
It was a good day’s work for Murray, some seven years after turning professional in 2005. Since then he has been tipped for glory but Grand Slam success proved elusive despite five final appearances – partly because his rivals in the top five are acknowledged as an unusually gifted field.
One of the quickest defensive counterpunchers on the circuit, and maturing into a skilled tactician on the court, he has changed coaches four times and steadily improved all aspects of his game – especially with regard to temperament.
His tennis career began at 15, when he chose to focus exclusively on the sport after turning his back on football – the young Scot was talented-spotted by soccer scouts from Rangers Football Club in Glasgow. After winning his first senior title in 2003 he moved to Barcelona to train at the famed Sánchez-Casal tennis academy.
After scoring his first ATP win at Queen’s in London two years later he was given a wild card for Wimbledon and made it to the third round. A year later he took his first ATP title, beating Australian Leyton Hewitt in the final.
And though he won eight Masters contests between 2008 and 2011, a string of semi-final appearances on the grand Slam circuit saw him losing out to the likes of Rafael Nadal – who leads him 13-5 in their head-to-head matches. Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and, of course, the great Federer also got the best of him. However, Murray still secured a place in the top ten rankings .
With tennis legend Ivan Lendl as his full-time coach, and his Wimbledon hex overcome, Murray has matured into a true tennis great. He has a formidable forehand and a steely mental toughness that played a major role in his five-set triumph over Djokovic in New York.
But no matter how many further Grand Slam successes comes his way in the wake of his US Open win, his victory in the men’s singles competition at London 2012 will undoubtedly remain a highpoint for Murray.