START spreading the news: Andy Murray is a Grand Slam tennis champion. Even now, five years on, there is something magical when you relate the fairytale which unfolded in New York in what Americans would call the fall of 2012.

That was when Dunblane’s most famous son landed his maiden major title at the fifth attempt, putting an end to 76 years without a male British Grand Slam winner.

A seminal Scottish sporting moment with the kind of gripping plotline which would not have been out of place at a Broadway show, the supporting cast includes cameos from Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Sean Connery and Donald Trump, not to mention a nasty little tornado which brought 70mph winds and forced the evacuation of these grounds on semi-final day.

Concluding with our hero standing in a small toilet cubicle, staring in the mirror and talking to himself like some Shakespearean soliloquy, this was the perfect sporting storm and I was privileged to be close to the centre of it for a fortnight.

Episodes like these, of course, don’t occur in a vacuum. It was a different, more confident Andy Murray who arrived in the Big Apple that August.

As traumatic as losing to Roger Federer in his first Wimbledon final had been that summer – who could forget him being reduced to a quivering wreck by Sue Barker afterwards? – thankfully the Olympics had arrived to help him get it out of his system. “Turning it around and winning the Olympics a few weeks after that, on the same court, against the same opponent, gave him huge momentum,” his mum Judy told Herald Sport this week.

First up for the No.3 seed at Flushing Meadows was Alex Bogomolov Jnr, a Russian-born American journeyman. Playing in the heat of the midday sun, the Scot lost just seven games, but this was an inauspicious start, as two of them were his very first service games of the tournament.

He got just 28 per cent of his first serves in play during that first set, and experienced cramp in a hamstring. “Maybe I didn’t take enough fluid,” the Scot said afterwards. “I haven’t played many matches in that sort of humidity for a while.” 

A night match against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig was decidedly more comfortable, apart from being quizzed afterwards about Prince Harry’s predilection for playing ‘strip billiards’ at a Las Vegas pool party. “I had a cameraman, I have no idea who he was working for, waiting outside the hotel,” Andy said.

“At first he congratulated me on the gold medal and then he asked me whether I’d seen the pictures of Prince Harry yet and what I thought of the crown jewels. I actually did say ‘no comment’ – that was my answer and then I ran away.”

Another predictable tabloid cringefest followed in the next round, against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, a man famously christened ‘Deliciano’ by his mother. It took three tie-breaks and three hours and 53 minutes for the Scot to see him off on a baking Louis Armstrong court, but Murray was back to his best against Milos Raonic in the next round, a straight-sets win which left the rather mechanical ‘missile from Montenegro’ in tatters. 

Shunted back out to Armstrong for his quarter final against No.12 seed Marin Cilic due to rain delays, Murray was forced to rally from a set and 5-1 down, but here he was, the 2004 US Open junior champion in the last four for the second year running.

He was in mid-press conference when the score flashed up to tell him that Tomas Berdych had defeated Roger Federer and would be his semi-final opponent. Rafa Nadal missed the tournament injured.That was when things got really interesting.

So torrential was the rain as I (and countless others) got off the Metro at Mets-Willets Point station on men’s semi-final (and women’s final) day that it hardly seemed worth the bother. But in an instant the skies cleared and the two men were on court for one of the most farcical tennis matches ever witnessed. 

One contretemps was caused by the Scot’s baseball cap blowing off in mid point, while an even crazier moment occurred when a gust of wind blew both men’s kit bags and towels on court as Murray prepared to serve. Fighting back from a set down to win in four, the Scot afterwards said the conditions were the toughest he had ever played in, “and I come from Scotland so that is saying something”. 

Berdych said there should be rules against this kind of thing. “I thought that I had a pretty good chance,” said the dejected Czech, “but the best word I can say is that the wind blow it away from me.”

An hour or so later – with Novak Djokovic trailing David Ferrer 5-2 in the day’s second semi-final – play was abandoned for the day and the place evacuated, leaving the Serb to return the next day to turn things around as the tournament was promptly extended to the Monday.

This was good news for the Scot, who got an additional day off, and also for Scottish journalists looking to secure tickets for the showpiece, as there was a queue of unhappy ticket holders from the West Coast who knew they had to be back at work by then. 

A crazy old day then, but that was only part of the story. Judy Murray picks up the narrative. “It was during that match that I had got a couple of texts from Alex Ferguson to say he had got a couple of tickets for hospitality,” she said.

“He told me that if I looked up to my right and spotted the orange flag, he was right beside it and waving. Then I got another text to say ‘ could you come up here after the match and say hello’. So I did that and that was where I had my ONE glass of wine.”

Sir Alex may have been rather less abstemious and soon he was asking for and being granted a private audience with the new US Open finalist. 
Bumping into an old friend in the form of Sir Sean outside the media room, a security guard told them they were causing an obstruction and here these knights of the realm were, good-naturedly gatecrashing the bemused Murray’s press conference.

“Sean said ‘come on Alex, let’s just go in’,” said Judy. “They just opened the door and walked in, and they told me to come in too. I thought ‘oh no, they are storming the press conference’. But it was the most wonderful thing, because it was two very proud, passionate Scots just so excited that he was in the final. The world’s media made it into a huge thing and Andy was just loving the fact they had to come to see him.”

The Manchester United manager was back, in Murray’s players box this time, for the final, as was future President Trump, swanning  in hospitality around like some latter-day Roman emperor watching his gladiators.  

What they – and the watching thousands back home in Scotland, some watching on in big screens in pubs and clubs in the wee small hours – witnessed was one of the all-time classic finals, a see-sawing humdinger which lasted just shy of five hours. No wonder so many reported for work bleary-eyed the next day. Or didn’t report at all.

The first set took a whopping 87 minutes, Murray capitalising on his sixth set point to take tie-break 12-10, then roaring into a 4-0 second set lead, only to have to win it all over again after Djokovic had levelled matters at 5-5. Still, surely he was on easy street now, the first time he had ever held a two-set lead in a Slam final? Not a bit of it. Tired or not, the Serb chiselled that lead away to nothing, taking the next two sets 2-6 and 3-6.

It was then, like some latter-day Robert the Bruce, that the Scot made his fateful walk to the toilet. “I never talk to myself, not out loud,” he recalled later.

“Isn’t that supposed to be the first sign of madness? But I stood in front of the mirror with sweat dripping down my face and knew I had to change what was going on inside. So I started talking. ‘You are not losing this match,’ I said. At first, I felt a bit weird, but I felt something change inside me.”

“He walked back to the chair, it was down our end, where our players box was,” recalled Judy. “When he looked up I could tell from his eyes he had switched back on again, that he was ready to go. You can tell with your kids.” 

A break of serve, now a double break, and soon the Scot was serving for the title, even if he was so caught up in the moment that he momentarily lined up on the wrong side and his Serbian adversary had to remind him with a flick of his racket to walk to swap sides. He sunk to his haunches and held his hands to his mouth in disbelief when Djokovic went long with a second serve return on his second championship point. 

The next hours, days and weeks went by in a blur for all concerned. Eventually there would be an emotional open top bus ride which left Dunblane a a standstill, but first there was an Asian meal with family and friends at midnight, and a photo and media session at the British Embassy the following day, just over the road from the UN building. 

As a hamper of Scottish produce was provided for the occasion, and quick as a flash Murray marked his place in history with a swig of Irn Bru. As he drank it all in, perhaps the thought crossed his mind that if he can make it there, he could make it anywhere.