- Last Updated: 4:48 AM, September 9, 2012
- Posted: 12:37 AM, September 9, 2012
No one in tennis does angst better than Andy Murray does.
Murray, whose calling card is the constant expression of constipation on his face, never has been a player who exudes much elation on the court, and yesterday’s U.S. Open semifinal match against Tomas Berdych at Arthur Ashe Stadium was no exception.
Murray often looked agitated — at the blustery weather, at Berdych, at the crowd, at linesmen and at himself.
But when it was over, after 3 hours and 58 minutes of high-wire anxiety, it was Murray who thrust both of his index fingers to the sky after surviving Berdych and the 20-mph wind gusts 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) to advance to tomorrow’s U.S. Open final.
He will play the winner of today’s completed semifinal between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer, which was suspended yesterday with Ferrer leading 5-2 in the first set because of tornados in the area.
Tomorrow will be Murray’s second U.S. Open final in four years and fifth career Grand Slam final. He is 0-for-4 in Slam finals, a failure that follows him everywhere he goes.
Maybe now is the time Murray turns torment to joy.
He got a taste of the lighter side of what his world can be like when, during his post-match press conference, famed Scottish actor Sean Connery apologetically interrupted the proceedings and marched in iconic Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Murray’s mother, Judy.
“Sorry to interrupt,’’ Connery said as he escorted Ferguson and Judy Murray into the room.
Ferguson, who is also Scottish, shook Murray’s hand and congratulated him. Murray hugged his mother and told her, “You smell like wine.’’
“You forced me to drink wine,’’ she joked.
It was that kind of day. There should have been a beer tap and a wine cooler at each player’s changeover chair to help relieve the tension the match and the gusting winds presented.
Murray lost the first set 7-5 then brilliantly adjusted his strategy, mixing speeds against the powerful Berdych to force the Czech with the flatter, harder serve and ground strokes to beat himself with 64 unforced errors to Murray’s 20.
So now, with Berdych dispatched and Roger Federer eliminated (ironically by Berdych in the quarters) and Rafael Nadal not here because of knee problems, Murray has a chance to finally win a Grand Slam and change the course of his career, which always has been defined more by heartbreak than triumph.
American star Andy Roddick, who retired this week after a fantastic career that included only one Grand Slam, left the game with a legacy that will be defined more by what he was unable to accomplish than what he did.
Murray’s career has been headed in a similar direction. Tomorrow he gets the chance to change that.
“I’m a lot more mature now, I’ve had a lot more experience in these sort of situations,’’ Murray said, recalling his first Slam final, a 2008 U.S. Open loss to Federer. “That was my first Slam final and it seemed to go by very quickly. So I hope it deal with it better [tomorrow].’’
Yesterday, Murray dealt with the crazy conditions much more deftly than Berdych, beating him with an admirable array of weapons, beginning with his mental toughness, which has clearly reached a higher level than its ever been.
“He dealt with it better than I did,’’ Berdych said. “That was the difference. Andy was better in this and that’s why he won.’’
That’s why he enjoyed the celebrity spoils of victory with Connery and Ferguson.
“I’m so proud of him, because I think the turning point for him was the Wimbledon final against Federer,’’ Ferguson said. “He’s just elevated himself to the top. Every Scot [is proud]. We’re a small nation, 3 million people, and whenever someone like him wins it brings pride to your country. We’re all in it. Every Scot will be cheering [tomorrow].’’
Imagine the scene if Murray ends his Grand Slam drought with a win tomorrow. It ought to wipe the anguished look from his face for good.Follow @NYPostsports