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Having promised his heavily-pregnant wife Kim that he'd be on the first plane home after the Australian Open final, Andy Murray was on his way to Tullamarine before the clock struck midnight.
History the motivator for Novak Djokovic
The chance to equal long-standing records was the driver for Novak Djokovic as the world number 1 defeats Andy Murray to win his sixth Australian Open title.
On the court, and off it, an emotional world No.2 thanked his long-time partner for her support and gave an insight into two difficult weeks. "Just quite looking forward to getting home now," he said.
Murray had just lost his fifth final on Rod Laver Arena, the last four of them to Novak Djokovic - another first-time father whose record since the arrival of son Stefan in late 2014 has heralded the most fertile period of his own career. Murray also had to deal with the courtside collapse and hospitalisation of his father-in-law Nigel Sears eight days ago. Ready to go home, indeed.
"It's been hard," he said after the straight sets loss. "Yeah, I spoke about it. Regardless of today's result, it's been hard. Had I lost in the third or fourth round it still would have been difficult with everything that's happened."
Kim, he said, had been "amazing" in his long absence, one that started before the season-opening Hopman Cup. Parenthood is imminent. "(She's) handled everything unbelievably well. Yeah, I have to thank her for allowing me to play and sort of stay here with everything that was going on. But, yeah, it was tough."
The slow start, in which he trailed 0-5 in 19 minutes, was partly a consequence of all that he had been dealing with, Murray said. "A lot's been going on. I started the last couple of matches quite slowly, I think, understandable in some respects.
"Obviously, you know, it's not good to begin matches like that against someone like Novak. But, you know, I'm proud of the way I fought and managed to get myself back into the match and create chances for myself."
His forehand appeared to be the main culprit on this occasion. The Brit pointed out that the difference in unforced errors (24) was the same as in total points won (123-99), over the almost-three-hour match against a rival he has now lost to 11 out of the past 12 times.
"I mean, I don't know how far off I was tonight. The first set, you know, I wasn't there, but the second and third sets I do think were very close," he said. "I do think I could have played a bit better. I didn't think I hit my forehand as well as I could have done. When I did in the third set, that helped me out a lot. I was able to get myself into the net more. I was able to play more offensive tennis then.
"I mean, most of the matches we played in slams I think have been competitive. Whether that looks the same from the outside or not, I don't know. For a three-set match, two hours and 50 minutes, it was a tough few sets."
He had, he said, come "as close as I've sort of been to leaving a grand slam" after Sears' collapse, while not exactly sure how close that was. "But, yeah, it was a tough, tough couple of days. Thankfully he's fine now. Yeah, I just want to get home."
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