Sure, it came in the wee hours of the morning in Britain, and who knows how many Britons stayed awake to witness it as it happened, but Andy Murray’s victory over Novak Djokovic in a wild United States Open final made it official. Britain owned the summer of sports. Its best cyclist won the Tour de France. It played the triumphant Olympic host to a T, reveling in the spectacle as much as its own success, then moved on to stage a worthy Paralympics. But men’s tennis was an even more daunting frontier, a Grand Slam drought that stretched to 1936, and Murray, well, let’s just say Britain has long taken measure of its rumpled, brooding star and thought, “Oh, bother. …”
But this, Britons have shown, is the summer of belief. And now, officially, the summer of triumph. They can finally believe in Murray, who, as Martin Samuel writes in The Daily Mail, polished off a long, hard road to this title, which hardly can be painted simply as an offshoot of his Olympic gold medal. They can finally enjoy his matches, instead of cringing through them, because as Kevin Mitchell writes in The Guardian, his previous Grand Slam events “resembled a flea carrying a piano up a mountain.” Suddenly, in the space of an incredible summer, Oliver Brown writes in The Telegraph, Britain’s sporting pianos have been lifted and replaced with joy. Even Sean Connery got in on the cheering.
Murray’s triumph was appreciated even in non-British circles as simply a tennis breakthrough for the ages, as Greg Garber writes on ESPN.com. He had the New York crowd on his side, although Filip Bondy of The Daily News criticizes its rather unsporting treatment of Djokovic, and together they seemed to bear the two weeks of weather interruptions and general fatigue. It was a memorable open, Jon Wertheim writes on SI.com, but not always for the expected reasons.
It did, however, offer a choice Monday night if the two N.F.L. games did not spark your interest. The second one was a decidedly iffy prospect, unless you wanted to watch San Diego-Oakland just to see which would succumb to its train crash tendencies first. The answer was Oakland (surprise!) with hilarious (unless you’re a Raiders fan) long-snapping woes.
The other game offered a warning to the N.F.L. that Baltimore may have finally produced an offense to rival its defense, writes Ashley Fox on ESPN.com, which should scare the bejesus out of the rest of the league, writes Chris Burke on SI.com. The season does seem to represent the last hurrah of defensive stalwarts Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, writes Dan Wetzel on Yahoo.com, which makes them the happiest of all that Joe Flacco & Co. might score a respectable amount of points.
Monday’s games also came with the sobering report that replacement referees may be around for a while as the N.F.L. digs in on another labor kerfuffle it should have avoided. This is just part of Roger Goodell’s long, bad summer, Charles P. Pierce writes on Grantland.com.
It turns out, for a summer at least, Goodell’s empire has taken a back seat to the British. Who would have thought?