Andy Murray loses to Novak Djokovic in Australian Open final
World number one Novak Djokovic won his fourth Australian Open title as Andy Murray's hopes of a second major win ended in pain.
The Serb, 25, was the stronger man over three hours and 40 minutes, winning 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-2, as Murray struggled to cope with blistered feet and an increasingly rampant opponent.
"I played a good second set," said Murray. "I created quite a few chances, but didn't quite get them. That was the difference."
And despite admitting that the blister "hurt when I ran", he insisted: "It had no bearing at all on the result."
Djokovic secured his sixth Grand Slam title and became the first man in 46 years to win for three years running in Melbourne.
"It's an incredible feeling winning this trophy again," said the champion. "It's definitely my favourite Grand Slam, my most successful Grand Slam. I love this court."
After losing an opening set he probably should have won, with five break points to none for Murray, the top seed came through a crunch moment at the start of the second when he battled back from 0-40 down.
It proved to be decisive, as the Serbian clung on and turned the tables by grabbing the tie-break.
Murray had been in charge but was disrupted when serving at 2-2, a feather floating down onto the court following a missed first serve, and after removing it he promptly double-faulted and smacked a forehand wide.
He won just one more point in the tie-break as Djokovic took control to level after two hours and 13 minutes of action.
The physicality of the contest appeared to be taking its toll when Murray then required treatment for blisters at the changeover, and he began to grimace between points.
It took two hours and 52 minutes of absorbing but rarely thrilling tennis for the first break of serve to arrive, and it went to Djokovic.
A thumping forehand into the corner set him on the way at 4-3, and despite saving two break points from 0-40, Murray could not resist any longer and netted a forehand.
Djokovic went on a run of winning eight out of nine games as he moved two sets to one up and the Briton's serve unravelled, the double-fault count rising to five after just two in his other six matches in Melbourne.
Unhappy with the umpire for not clamping down on shouts from the crowd, and with his movement hindered, Murray cut a dispirited figure as Djokovic powered towards another major win.
In marked contrast to his opponent, the Serb was relishing the closing stages and romped home towards match point, one delicious drop shot verging on the cruel.
Djokovic wrapped it up on serve when Murray netted a backhand and did a jig of delight on court before heading over to celebrate with his support team.
With six Grand Slam victories, he matches the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Don Budge and Jack Crawford in the all-time list - and there could be plenty more to come.