Djokovic Beats Murray For Sixth Australian Open Crown
Serb reigns once more in Melbourne
With a slice of history on the line, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic rose to the occasion on Sunday night in Melbourne as he defeated Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final of the Australian Open.
Victory at Melbourne Park sees Djokovic equal Roy Emerson's record of six Australian titles. It marks his 11th Grand Slam championship, moving him into equal fifth place with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver on the all-time list for most major titles and closing the gap on his great rivals Roger Federer (17) and Rafael Nadal (14).
"Every Grand Slam title is very significant in its own way," said Djokovic. "Here, because of the fact that I managed to make history tonight and equal Roy Emerson's six Australian Open titles. I'm very honoured to be mentioned alongside legends of our sport like Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, and to win as many Grand Slams as they did.
"I can't lie and say I didn't think about it. Of course it was in the back of my mind. Coming into the court I knew that I had a chance to make history. Of course it served as a great motivation, as a great imperative to play my best."
Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam crowns in 2015, only denied the calendar slam by Stan Wawrinka in the Roland Garros final.
The 28 year old has a staggering 57-6 record in Melbourne, winning his first major title there in 2008 (d. Tsonga) before returning as champion in 2011 (d. Murray), 2012 (d. Nadal), 2013 (d. Murray) and 2015 (d. Murray).
"It's phenomenal," said Djokovic. "I'm very proud of it, as is my team. We worked very hard to be in this position, and we should enjoy it. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience now because these are the tournaments that we all value, that we all want to play well on.
"No doubt that I'm playing the best tennis of my life in the past 15 months."
Djokovic improved to a 22-9 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Murray as he wrapped up victory in two hours and 53 minutes. The Belgrade native won six of their seven meetings last season. Since Murray defeated the Serb in the 2012 US Open final, Djokovic has won 14 of their past 16 contests.
Djokovic made a lightening start to the match. After saving a break point in his opening game, the Serb raced into a 5-0 lead in just 19 minutes. Murray began to find his range in the latter stages, but could not stop Djokovic sealing the opener in 30 minutes.
In a keenly contested second set, Murray saved four break points in the third game, before he paid the price for forehand unforced errors as Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead. Murray immediately struck back, breaking for the first time in the match to level at 4-4, but lost his serve from a 40/0 advantage in the 11th game as Djokovic regained the initiative. Two double faults from Djokovic gave Murray the chance to level in the 12th game, but the Serb steadied himself to close out the two-set lead.
Building on his momentum, Djokovic broke Murray in the first game of the third set, but the Dunblane native was not going down without a fight. He broke Djokovic in the sixth game to draw level and ultimately force a tie-break. But two double faults from Scot proved his undoing in the early stages of the tie-break, gifting Djokovic a lead that he would never recover.
Since the start of the 2015 US Open, Djokovic has compiled a 38-1 match record, with his only defeat coming to Roger Federer in the round robin stage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – he would beat the Swiss when they met again in the final later that week. In that spell, Djokovic has gone 17-1 against Top 10 opponents. He opened his 2016 ATP World Tour campaign with victory in Doha, where he dismissed Rafael Nadal in the final for the loss of just three games.
It was a familiar tale for Murray, who has finished runner-up in the Australian Open final five times, with four of those defeats coming to Djokovic. He was also beaten by Federer in the 2010 final. The Dunblane native is only the second man in the Open Era to lose five finals at any one major, joining his former coach, Ivan Lendl, who was five times the runner-up at the US Open.
The Scot has a 2-7 record in Grand Slam finals, with his two triumphs coming over Djokovic at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon.
“I saw some of the stats just at the end of the match,” said Murray. “He won 24 more points than me. I had 24 more unforced errors [than him]. I think I didn't hit my forehand particularly well at the beginning of the match. I started to hit it better in the third set. But that was it.
"The end of the second set, obviously the game I lost 40/0 up, was a tough one. Maybe I could have nicked that set. I was starting to have quite a lot of opportunities in the second. I had a few chances there when I got the break back I think. That was a tough game to lose.
"Then obviously in the third I felt like towards the end of the set, after I got the break back again, that I was creating a few chances. In the tie-break, I missed two second serves by a little bit. He had served an ace on the T, which was in by a little bit.
"I'm proud of the way I fought and managed to get myself back into the match and create chances for myself."