Melbourne: Novak Djokovic won his second Australian Open title, breezing past Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to extend Britain`s near 75-year drought in men`s singles Grand Slams.
Djokovic also won the 2008 Australian title for his only other Grand Slam victory. Murray has lost three Grand Slam finals, also falling to Roger Federer in the 2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open.
Djokovic had to overcome some big obstacles en route to the final, including a win over Federer in the semifinals. And this came just two months after leading Serbia to its first Davis Cup title.
"We have known each other for such a long time," Djokovic said about Murray. "It was difficult tonight."
Murray hasn`t won a set in a Grand Slam final. Last year, the Scot cried after his loss to Federer. There were no visible tears this year, but the hurt may have been just as bad after he lost seven straight games through the end of the first set and into the second and never appeared to be in the match.
"I`ll try to keep it together this year," Murray said, speaking confidently and talking about "having more chances in the future" as the crowd yelled out "Andy! Andy!"
The last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title was Fred Perry in the 1936 US Open — more than 270 majors ago.
Murray and Djokovic, each 23 and born a week apart, are good friends and often practice together. At the coin flip before the match, Djokovic smiled broadly for photos while Murray looked fidgety and nervous.
After the match, the two hugged, then Djokovic threw his racket, his shirt and then his shoes into the crowd.
The roof was closed at Rod Laver Arena for most of the day due to 100-degree temperatures, but was opened just before the match started and after the weather had cooled significantly.
Trailing 5-4, Murray double-faulted to lead off the 10th game of the first set. Then he hit a backhand into the net after a 39-hit point. Murray challenged the final point of the set when he thought his forehand stayed in on the backline, but Djokovic walked away with the set in 59 minutes.
Djokovic held serve on four straight points to open the second set, then went up 2-0 when he again broke Murray`s service, finishing off the point when Murray`s attempted drop shot was returned crosscourt for a winner. Murray had five unforced errors in the first two games.
The Serb went up 3-0, then continued his domination in the next game, breaking Murray in four straight points to go up 4-0 and held for 5-0, his seventh straight game win. Murray finally stopped the streak with an ace on game point to trail 5-1, then broke Djokovic in the next game to cut it to 5-2.
Murray appeared to be having problems with his eyes, blinking often and rubbing them on changeovers and often during points. That didn`t help in the next game when he again dropped serve and lost the second set in 40 minutes, Djokovic establishing set point with a memorable crosscourt winner off a near-impossible shot from Murray.
The third set started with Murray`s second break of Djokovic`s service in the match, but Djokovic ensure that Murray`s advantage was short-lived by breaking him in the next game. After an unforced error wide, Murray pounded his fist and yelled out in disgust.
Things didn`t improve for Murray, who held off six break points before Djokovic prevailed on the seventh in the fourth game, hitting a backhand down the line to pass a stretching Murray. Djokovic pumped his fist and let out a loud yell in celebration.
That, too, was short-lived, when Murray broke back in the next game to pull to 3-2, then held through two break points to level the set at 3. Late in the match, Murray appeared to clutch his lower back after a low return on the baseline.
Djokovic soon broke serve again and then served it out.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 5-3, ending a three-match streak for Murray.