By Abhishek Mehrotra
It so nearly didn't happen. After losing two tight sets, Djokovic resurrected his game, racing through sets three and four to put the match on a knife edge. The Murray of old would have wilted away, but this one held on and roared on by a fiercely partisan crowd, romped through the fifth.
History was created as the Scot became the first man to win both the Olympic gold and the US Open in the same year, along with becoming first British man in the Open era to win a Slam.
History was avoided as well - as Murray's triumph saw him avoid the ignominy of becoming the only player to have lost five major finals on the trot. At the moment, he holds the record with the man who watched on from the players' box - and to whom the 25-year-old paid rich tribute later.
"He's one of the greatest players to have ever played. Here he made eight consecutive finals," Murray said.
"It's great to have him supporting me and helping me in the tough moments and not just him, but everyone else has been there from the start so thank you very much."
Lendl with his fierce drive, utilitarian game and inexpressive persona, was never the crowd's most adored player - but on Monday night some of New York's love for his ward floated his way too. The man who made the US Open final every year from 1982 to 1989 was warmly applauded, and even deigned to grin when his name was mentioned.
Through the previous 4 hours and 54, Lendl had sat expressionless as Murray and Djokovic duelled in wicked weather conditions. Ultimately though, it was the weather that played a big role in the Scot's win.
Going into the match, the general opinion was that Murray would need to be the aggressor if he needed to beat the defending champion. But the gusts of wind sweeping through the arena nullified to some extent Djokovic's biggest strength - his backhand.
Because he never really came to terms with the conditions, the Serb had to use the slice at the expense of the far more effective flat backhand that is one of the best strokes in the men's game currently.
Both players were conservative with their serves too - trying to ensure they just got them in rather than going for aces. Murray served five aces and four double faults. The corresponding numbers for Djokovic were seven and five.
This safety-first approach levelled the playing field as far as returns were concerned as well - thus taking away another of Djokovic's advantages. In fact, Murray returned slightly better winning 74 out of 170 points on his opponents serve (44%) while the numbers for Djokovic were 64 out of 154 (42%).
Murray, on the other hand, didn't have to bring about a huge change in game. He did play some crucial points aggressively, especially late in the first-set tie-break but largely didn't have to take too many risks, something that he doesn't like doing.
In a way, it was justice done - at least as far as Murray was concerned. At the Wimbledon final earlier this year, bad weather and the consequent closing of the roof midway through the final had shifted the momentum of his match against Roger Federer. Now, the weather played into his hands.
Pointing to the weather as the reason for Murray's win would be churlish of course. It was clear he had learnt from his semi-final against Tomas Berdych - a match played in worse conditions. There were plenty of slices - something he is better at than Djokovic to whom the shot doesn't come naturally - serves placed rather than powered and points won with patience rather than flair.
At the end, as Djokovic made the last of his 65 unforced errors, there was unbridled joy. After years of doubting himself and being doubted by fans as well as the media, Murray was finally no longer the best player never to win a Grand Slam
"Right now, there's a lot of relief and I'm still buzzing a bit from the match - the atmosphere out there was unbelievable," he said immediately after the match.
"It would have been a tough one to lose so I'm so, so happy I managed to pull though in the end."
For some time now, talk of a big four has always been met with a slight snigger. How could multiple Slam champions and some of the best players of all time be bracketed with one who has yet to win a major? Murray still has a long way to go before catching up with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer.
But he took a massive, massive step on Monday night at Flushing Meadows, and ensured in the process that the four Grand Slams this year were split between the top four players in the world.
Believe it or not, men's tennis just got a little bit better.