Novak Djokovic claimed his third successive Australian Open crown, beating Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2. The world number one demonstrated his full repertoire to defeat an opponent who tried his best but ultimately came up short.
The Serbian becomes the first player in the open era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles. On the evidence of today’s performance, few would bet against him making it four in a row next year.
Murray looked second best for much of the first set, struggling through service games and failing to get much on the return. The Scot’s first serve, dominant for much of the semi against Federer, was conspicuous by its absence.
Djokovic was unable to force an opening, and after more than an hour of gritty attritional tennis, a tiebreak was needed to decide the set.
It did not go well for the Serb. A double fault on the opening point followed by some wayward groundstrokes gave an immediate mini-break to Murray. The Scot cantered into a 5-1 lead before converting his second set point.
The second set was almost a mirror image of the first - this time Murray was in the ascendency and Djokovic struggling. Again a tiebreak was required to separate the two.Read more (297 words)
The pivotal moment came at 2-2. The Scot missed a first serve and, as he prepared to hit his second delivery, a small white feather floated onto the court. Murray removed it and promptly double faulted.
Such small incidents can signal big shifts in momentum, and Djokovic capitalized on the minibreak to secure the second set. Murray looked uncomfortable and, at the change of ends, the reason soon became obvious.
The Scot called for the trainer and received treatment for a badly blistered foot. Returning to the court, Murray’s movement was clearly hampered – a crucial handicap when playing an opponent with Djokovic’s defensive skills.
Sensing blood, the world number one upped his game. A single break in the third was enough to establish a two sets to one lead and, with Murray visibly struggling, the coup de grâce was not long in coming.
Djokovic has now won six Slams and is well on his way to being considered one of the greats of the game. He was the deserved victor today, playing the more aggressive tennis and exploiting his opponent’s weaknesses. The Serb remains world number one and at the moment looks unlikely to be challenged for that position.
For Murray, reaching the final was a great achievement. No player in the modern era has won his second slam immediately after his first, so a victory today was always historically unlikely. The Scot was also clearly hampered by injury in the latter stages of the match, so a loss here should not be too dispiriting.
Next up is the American spring hard court swing. For the last few years Murray has done poorly at these events, so a lot of points are on offer. A good run will see the Scot close the gap on the number 2 spot.