- Djokovic wants to remain hungriest wolf
- I just want to get home: Murray
- Andy and his nemesis Novak
- Djokovic v Murray: As it happened
Novak Djokovic does not lose Australian Open finals; not his first five, and not the sixth he played and won 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) on Sunday night. Andy Murray does not win Melbourne Park deciders; five in total now, more than any man has lost before.
Novak equals Grand Slam greats
Australia return to Davis Cup world group
Kyrgios, Tomic hand Australia lead
Kerber reaches first US Open final
Pliskova eliminates Williams
Kyrgios lashes out at Rasheed
Murray cruises past Dimitrov
Pliskova eliminates Venus Williams
Novak equals Grand Slam greats
Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was motivated by the chance to equal two Grand Slam legends
Less than 24 hours after Serena Williams was shown to be fallible, normal service resumed at the tournament, which to Djokovic is becoming like Roland Garros is to Rafael Nadal. The 28-year-old claimed his 11th grand slam title to draw level with the legend, Rod Laver, after whom the world No.1's most productive court was named. Bjorn Borg, too, is in that elite company with only Roger Federer (17), Nadal and Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12) ahead. But for how much longer?
It was Emerson's Australian championship record of six that Djokovic equalled on Sunday night, in his 17th consecutive tour final, to claim a third successive major and sixth out of the past 10. Last year's loss to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open was a rare blemish indeed.
Djokovic said he was "extremely honoured to be mentioned alongside legends of tennis", such as Laver, who sat in the front row, while acknowledging the absent Emerson. "It's a great privilege to match your record of six Australian Opens as one of the greatest players to ever play this game, so I want to wish him all the best."
Murray, though, started poorly, was punished on his second serve and could not out-hit Djokovic the way Wawrinka managed in the 2014 quarter-final upset that remains the Serb's only loss here in the past five years.
The tie-breaker that could have made things interesting was an anti-climax that started with a Murray double-fault and finished with a Djokovic ace. His raised his arms, kissed and patted the court. The love affair continues.
He has now beaten Murray – his closest rankings rival, but really not close at all – 11 times out of the past 12, and leads 22-9 overall. Four of those wins have been here, on his favourite blue Plexicushion, where he has won 39 of his past 40 matches. Murray won barely a third of the points on his second serve, and was always in chase mode, for this final started as last year's had finished: with Djokovic dominating. From break point down in his first service game, the Serb was up 5-0 within just 19 minutes, reminiscent of an even more emphatic start to Thursday's semi-final against Federer. Only towards the latter stages of a one-sided half-hour did the second seed show signs of settling into his game.
While the second seed was under regular pressure on serve, the rallies and games were also lengthening, the match becoming more competitive, as the evening cooled and the conditions slowed. After being broken in the seventh game, the dual grand slam champion was then belly-aching to his box at the change of ends in the manner we have seen so often. It did not prevent an immediate break back, but he was having to work so hard just to keep in touch that it seemed all the effort, and emotion would eventually take a heavy toll.
A critical game was at 5-5 in the second set, Murray broken after leading 40-0. A punishing 36-shot rally brought Djokovic back to deuce to set up the break that duly came two points later, Murray unable to capitalise when his rival tightened up slightly as he attempted to serve out the set, and then started the third by again dropping his own. Still, there was no capitulation, Murray up for the battle until it was eventually over in just under three hours.
It had been a trying fortnight in several respects for the dual grand slam champion, on alert to return home immediately at the hint of a labour pain, his father-in-law Nigel Sears having been hospitalised after collapsing at court-side a week ago.
"I feel like I've been here before," Murray quipped at the presentation. "I'd like to congratulate Novak, six Australian Opens is an incredible feat." He then thanked his team. "It's been a tough few weeks for me away from the court and I thank all of you for your support with that as well."
Djokovic also spoke generously of Murray as a player, friend and person, the pair only one week apart in age and rivals since their junior days. "I wish you and Kim a very happy and healthy delivery of your baby," he said. "I hope you will experience the feeling like no other before, because that's what happened to me and my wife, so I wish you all the best."
Then, in an emotional final acknowledgement, Andy spoke of his wife Kim, who is due to give birth any day. "To my wife, who I'm sure is going to be watching back home just now, you've been a legend the last two weeks. Thank-you so much for all of your support. I'll be on the next flight home."
The positive on the family side was the doubles title his brother Jamie shared with Bruno Soares on Saturday night, but even that would have drained a little something from him, with the younger Murray jokingly chastised by the elder for being in the courtside box taking celebration photos at 1am rather than back in his hotel resting up.
And so a Murray leaves Melbourne Park with a grand slam title, but not Andy, who joins his former coach Ivan Lendl as the second man to lose five finals at any single grand slam. The good news is that Lendl won three US Opens, too, in the midst of all the disappointments, There is still time for Murray; just one year less than there was.
Who will finish their career with more grand slam singles titles?
Poll closed 3 Mar, 2016
Disclaimer: These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.