Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for the third time in an Australian Open final as the world No.1 clinched his fifth Melbourne Park crown with a 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 win.
Djokovic got the better of British No.1 Murray in both the 2011 and 2013 finals and once again it was the Serb prevailed after a lengthy, tight encounter on Sunday.
The opening set lasted a marathon 72 minutes on Rod Laver Arena: both players broke serve twice in a remarkable exchange of tennis, before Murray forced the tie-breaker. However, despite taking the braver approach, Murray was eventually undone by his own efforts.
His return to set up a winner and earn a first set point was too long and Djokovic, who appeared frustrated with apparent thumb blisters, claimed first blood when the Scot netted a backhand on the second serve. Previously, Murray had never come back from a set down to beat Djokovic and that was not about to change.
The second set started in opposite fashion as the pace from both players slumped dramatically. With Djokovic struggling with thumb and ankle problems, Murray broke into a two-love lead only to lose four successive games and hand momentum back to his opponent: a trait that would ultimately cost him a maiden Australian Open crown.
A brief stoppage due to protestors invading the court provided a turning point; the standard lifted and Murray broke back. After 80 minutes, some long and fiercely contested points and a second tie-break, the Scot was level.
However, Murray’s failure to kick on when ahead proved detrimental. Flying from his levelling tie-break, he broke immediately at the start of the third and quickly held to move two-love up. Djokovic, though, was soon let off the hook; the same as he had been against Wawrinka in their semi-final and earlier in the match.
Two breaks of serve later and set three was over in less than half the time it took to finish set two. The four-time champion moved within a set of his fifth title.
Momentum had clearly shifted the Serb’s way and Murray looked to have given up the ghost. The Briton was broken immediately and, after Djokovic secured advantage with a comfortable hold, Murray dropped serve again. From that point there was only one outcome as, after over three-and-half gruelling hours on court, Djokovic wrapped up his third Australian Open final triumph against his old friend and rival with a bagel.
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