76 years since the last British man - Fred Perry - won a Grand Slam, and four years since Andy Murray played in his first Grand Slam final, getting outclassed in the 2008 U.S. Open Final by the great Roger Federer. In those four years, Murray has battled adversity in all directions - he went on to three more Grand Slam finals, only to lose all three. He saw his close friend and rival Novak Djokovic break through Federer and Rafael Nadal dominance. He even saw a younger man - Juan Martin del Potro - beat both Nadal and Federer en route to a Grand Slam.
The talent has always been there. The heart has always been there. When would it be his turn? As it turns out, it was September 10th, 2012. The day the doubters were finally silenced; the Olympic Gold was nice, but it was not a Grand Slam, nor what he was satisfied with.
Finally, Murray fought and fought, and in a match that was one minute away from being the longest U.S. Open Final in the Open Era, he defeated Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2. Both players gave it their all; the ups and downs of the match only made it more exciting, and the crowd loved every bit of it. There was a bit of everything: unbelievable defense from Murray, a fired up Djokovic, a racket throwing Djokovic, a deflated, shell shocked looking Djokovic after going down two sets, and an angry Murray barking at his box. Even the championship point wasn't without drama, as Djokovic took a medical timeout which was booed by the crowd.
Murray walks away with roughly $2 million and his long awaited Grand Slam, but the crowd will walk away from one of the greatest shows on Earth. The 2012 U.S. Open Final - I won't label it the greatest U.S. Open Final of all time - was fantastic, breathtaking, exciting, and everything you could have wished or hoped for. Two players who are so similar and have so much heart gave everything they had, and it was noticeable. Perhaps the wait will have been worth it, as Murray has finally passed the test of playing with Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic - a group formerly known as the "Big Three". With Nadal out with injury, and Federer shocked by Berdych, it was appropriate - necessary, even - for Murray to have played Djokovic in the final to really prove to the world that it was not the luck of the draw that got him there, but skill and determination.
How many times did we believe Murray finally secured the win, until Djokovic comes fighting back. After cleaning out the third and fourth set, Murray reverses the momentum completely. The match was every bit unpredictable as it was enjoyable, and as tennis fans we need to enjoy this moment right now.
The Big Four has arrived, and they are arguably the most talented Big Four in history. How well has 2012 panned out; Djokovic won the Australian Open, the Slam in which he has had most success. Nadal, greatest clay court player of all time, wins the French Open and becomes the all time French Open titles leader. Federer wins his favorite tournament, Wimbledon, and ties his idol Pete Sampras' title mark with seven Wimbledon titles. And Murray, the man that has long favored hard courts but especially the U.S. Open, where he won as a junior in 2004 and made his first Slam finals appearance in 2008, finally breaks through in 2012.
This kind of dominance is unbelievable, and fans should enjoy it while it lasts. Talented players starting from David Ferrer can't even get in the finals of a Slam to have a chance of even winning one. Dominance in sports may seem boring as it is predictable, but a sport needs - preferably a few - dominant players.
In order to become the best, you have to take the test. Murray came in for his fifth re-test today and passed with flying colors. No one is quite sure what Djokovic said to Murray when the two embraced after the match, but it would have been appropriate for Djokovic to say, "Welcome to the club". There will be no more talk of 1936, or Fred Perry, when it comes to discussing British singles Grand Slam champions again - it will now be Andy Murray, 2012 U.S. Open Champion.
Brian has been a lifelong tennis fan and has written about tennis since 2009