Novak Djokovic beats Andy Murray to win fifth Australian Open title
- Djokovic wins eighth Grand Slam title
- Murray runner-up for fourth time
- Djokovic wins 12 of last 13 games
Novak Djokovic proved too strong for Andy Murray as he won a fifth Australian Open title in a punishing final.
The Serb, ranked number one, came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0 in three hours and 39 minutes.
It was a third win over British number one Murray in a Melbourne final and brought him an eighth Grand Slam title.
Murray, 27, has now won two of the eight Grand Slam finals he has played in, having lost all four in Australia.
"I would like to congratulate Novak - it is a fantastic record and thoroughly deserved," said Murray.
"It is probably my most consistent Grand Slam throughout my career but I just haven't been able to win."
Murray, who underwent back surgery towards the end of 2013 and was playing in his first Grand Slam final since winning Wimbledon earlier that year, added: "I'm closer than I was a few months ago.
"I'll try to come back next year and have a slightly different outcome in the final."
The Scot, who will return to fourth in the world rankings on Monday, had chances in each of the first three sets of the final but ultimately lost his way and his temper as Djokovic won 12 of the last 13 games.
Djokovic, a week younger than his opponent, did look vulnerable at times, hurting his hand in a fall and appearing to struggle with an ankle problem early in the second set.
There were some concerned looks to coach Boris Becker in the stands. He stumbled on more than one occasion and required some energy-boosting fluids at a break down in the third set.
Murray later admitted he had been "distracted" by the Serb's apparent physical issues and, just as at the US Open last September, he could not keep pace with Djokovic in the closing stages.
Djokovic had made a blistering start, racing into a 4-1 lead and going 20 minutes before he offered up a first unforced error.
It was to Murray's credit that he twice hauled back breaks to force a tie-break, but a double-fault at 4-2 and a loose volley at 5-5 simply gave Djokovic too many chances.
The four-time champion clinched it when Murray netted a return, before suffering an awkward fall chasing a net cord early in the second that required treatment to his hand.
Murray moved into a 2-0 lead but saw the advantage wiped out when a rejuvenated Djokovic strung together 13 straight points.
Again, Murray fought back, a forehand into the corner making it 4-4, and three break points were saved at 5-5 on the way to a second tie-break.
This time the Scot would not relinquish an advantage, winning a gripping rally to lead 5-2 and converting his third set point.
When Djokovic netted a forehand to drop serve at the start of the third set, Murray appeared to have finally gained the initiative after two and a half hours.
It proved to be his last moment to savour, however. Increasingly frustrated by a resurgent opponent, his second serve slipped from being vulnerable to a liability.
|Match time: 3hrs 39 mins|
|60||1st serve %||65|
|59||1st serve win %||65|
|62||2nd serve win %||34|
Djokovic was now winning 75% of those points, with Murray screaming "how many times" as his advantage fell away.
The Serb saw off one final moment of danger at break point in game seven, gesturing to coach Becker to become more animated, but he required no assistance.
Murray was a rapidly fading force, double faulting to drop serve at 5-3, and winning just 11 points in a fourth set that disappeared in under half an hour.
Djokovic celebrated by throwing his racquet into the crowd, while a furious Murray smashed his in despair.
"I'm honoured to be standing here as a champion for a fifth time," said the Serb after collecting the trophy from Australia's Roy Emerson, the only man to win six titles.