World number one Novak Djokovic beat Britain’s Andy Murray in straight sets at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.
The 28-year-old Serbian successfully defended his crown thanks to a commanding 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 victory and is now tied with Australia’s Roy Emerson, who won the tournament half-a-dozen times between 1961 and 1967.
Djokovic has also drawn level with Sweden’s Björn Borg and Australia’s Rod Laver on 11 Grand Slam titles, and moved closer to the all-time record of 17 held by Switzerland’s Roger Federer.
Second seed Murray has now lost all five Australian Open finals he has played, four of them against Djokovic.
The Scot becomes only the second man to lose five finals at the same Grand Slam since the Open era began in 1968.
He follows in the footsteps of former coach Ivan Lendl of the Czech Republic, who despite winning three US Opens during his career, suffered defeat in five finals at Flushing Meadows in New York.
Murray was expected to head straight to the airport after the final to return to London and his wife Kim, who is due to give birth to their first child in the next two weeks.
“I need to pay respect to Andy for having another great tournament – tough luck tonight,” said Djokovic, who will try to complete his career Grand Slam with a first French Open title in June.
“He’s a great champion, great friend and a great professional who I’m sure will have many more chances to win this trophy.
“I also wish you and Kim good luck for the birth of your child and I hope you will experience a feeling like no other before – that’s what happened to me and my wife.
“I wish you all the best.”
Despite facing a break point in his opening service game, Djokovic soon got into his groove and broke Murray’s serve twice to take the first set after half an hour.
Murray was still under the cosh as the second set developed and had to battle his way through a marathon 12-minute game at 1-1 to give him a foothold in the contest.
Djokovic looked to have gained a psychological breakthrough with a service break in the seventh game, but Murray recovered to break back at the first opportunity with his backhand clipping the baseline.
With a tie-break looming at 5-5, Murray was in charge on serve at 40-0 only for Djokovic to reel off five consecutive points, including one from an exhaustive 36-shot rally.
Two successive double faults from Djokovic offered Murray a lifeline in the next game, but he recovered with a good serve and closed it out to claim a two-sets-to-love lead.
Murray came back from a break down at the start of the third set to force a tie-break, however, it proved to be in vain as two double faults gave Djokovic a 6-1 lead and allowed the Serb to seal victory with an ace after two hours and 53 minutes.
Djokovic has now won four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, including the last three in a row.
“I feel like I’ve been here before,” said Murray.
“Six Australian Opens is an incredible feat.
“The last year has been incredible.”
- By Daniel Etchells
- This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, www.insidethegames.biz