The Tale Of Two (Comeback) Champions
It was a day of two great champions known for their competitive doggedness even when down in long matches. Andy Murray of Great Britain defeated Adrian Mannarino of France in a long contest that lasted three hours and 17 minutes at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
On the other hand, the 34-year old Australian Lleyton Hewitt failed to do likewise, in his bid against his 23-year old compatriot Bernard Tomic in their close match in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
In the first set, both Murray and Mannarino held serves until the 11th game when the Scotsman was broken. The Frenchman double-faulted on the first point and lost the next two to go down 0-40.
He cancelled the first by wrong-footing Andy and hit two successive aces to deuce before taking the game and the first set 7-5. The second set followed the same pattern as each held serve.
The fifth game was drawn out as Murray fought back from 0-30 and then faced service break at 0-40 that he cancelled with an ace. He eventually won the game to take a 3-2 lead. At 4-all, Murray went down 0-40 before Mannarino took the game with a down-the line backhand winner.
Serving for the second set, Mannarino did not drop a point before taking the game with an easy volley winner after running Murray back and forth on the baseline.
Andy Murray was facing an upset but his record of come-backs could not be ruled out. He won the first game of the third set without dropping a point. Serving to level up, the Frenchman hit successive double-faults to go down 0-30, and then needed a big serve to level to deuce.
The advantage went to Murray who grabbed the game and yelled so loud that the crowd rose in applause. It was the sign of a come-back. Mannarino won only one game as the set ended 6-1.
In the fourth set, Mannarino showed signs of wiltering. Andy Murray broke service to take a 3-1 lead and games went with serve until Murray got the second break in the eighth game.
In the ninth game Mannarino missed two easy balls and was down 0-40 before struggling to take the next two. However a double fault at 30-40 gave Murray the game and the fourth set 6 games to 3.
The momentum had shifted fully to the Scotsman. Andy Murray won the opening game of the decisive fifth set, without dropping a point while Mannarino lost the second game without winning any point on his serve.
Murray won the third without any resistance from his opponent who however took the fourth game with a wide service that was beyond Murray’s backhand reach.
That was the Frenchman’s last hurray. When Murray lost the first point of the 5th game, he growled. That seemed to give him a resurgence of energy as he took the game without dropping another point.
Mannarino put up a spirited effort, serving with news balls but lost the long game to give Murray a commanding 5-1 lead.Serving for the match, Murray hit a deft drop shot to go up 30-15, won the next to reach match point and clinched the game set and match with an ace.
The performance was Andy Murray’s eight victory after being two sets down in Grandslam events where the men must win three sets out of five. In this contest, he shrieked on every shot, while the Frenchman displayed excellent combination of defensive play with an effective serve and perfect timing for going on the offensive.
In the post match on-court interview, Murray acknowledged that the Frenchman made him run all over the court in the first two sets, with a flat strike on the ball from a short backswing which made it difficult to read where the shots were going.
In the other attempt at come-back, 24th seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia defeated his compatriot Lleyton Hewitt 6-3; 6-2; 3-6; 5-7; 7-5. The match was close in all statistics.
Bernard Tomic hit 25 aces to Hewitt’s 18; and 63 outright winners to 56 respectively. The younger Aussie had more unforced errors, in his bid to hit the winners. At the end of the contest, the winner had a total of 163 points to Hewitt’s 156.
It was the farewell match for the great Aussie, who defeated Pete Sampras to win his first Grand Slam title, the 2001 US Open title. It marked the advent of baseliners who put an end to the serve-and-volley game.