Murray caps Britain's golden sports summer

LONDON -- First came the victory in the Tour de France. Then there were the stacks of medals at a dazzling Olympics at home.

If that weren't enough to lift the country's spirits, Britain basked in another milestone Tuesday to cap this magical sports summer.

Yes, at long last, after 76 years of wait and frustration, Britain has a men's Grand Slam tennis champion.

Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in five sets in the U.S. Open final, giving Britain yet one more reason to wave the flag again. The feel-good glow began with national celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's "Diamond Jubilee" of 60 years on the throne and peaked during the last six weeks of Olympic and Paralympic fervor.

Murray's victory -- completed while most of Britain was asleep -- came just hours after more than 1 million people lined the streets of London to cheer the nation's Olympians and Paralympians in a two-hour parade marking the end of the 2012 Games.

"The forecast ... was made yesterday that the great summer of British sport was over, but he's given us another immense prize to wake up to," Prime Minister David Cameron said.

After losing in four previous Grand Slam finals, Murray outlasted defending champion Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after nearly five hours on Monday to become the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry captured the Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in 1936.

Finally, the "Fred Perry curse" has been broken -- although until Murray wins Wimbledon, it won't be fully put to rest.

"Thank God that's over. Thank God we can let Fred Perry lie easy. Thank God for Andy Murray," wrote the Guardian newspaper website.

Like Tim Henman before him, Murray had been dogged by the weight of expectations of the British public and media and the never-ending questions over when the Grand Slam drought would finally be broken.

"Now they won't ask me that stupid question any more" read the back page headline Tuesday in London's Evening Standard.

What a past few months it has been for Britain in the arena.

Chelsea won the Champions League. Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship by a record eight shots and established himself as golf's dominant player.

Above all, London hosted a hugely successful Olympics and Paralympics that captivated the country. Britain recorded its best Olympic showing in 104 years with 29 gold medals (including Murray in singles) and 65 medals in all. Britain celebrated the close of the Paralympics on Sunday after winning 120 medals, including 34 gold.

Now, Murray has become the first man to win the U.S. Open and Olympic gold in the same year.

"I'm absolutely delighted for him," Cameron said. "It's a huge achievement. For 76 years Britain has waited for a Grand Slam win in tennis and Andy has done it in huge style."

The victory came on the exact day -- Sept. 10 -- that Perry won the U.S. title in 1936. It also came in Murray's fifth Grand Slam final, following in the footsteps of his no-nonsense coach, Ivan Lendl, who lost in his first four Grand Slam finals before going on to win eight major titles.