Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray to win the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday, triumphing 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0 for his fourth victory at the event in the last five years and fifth overall, putting him into the record books, per journalist Erik Gudris:
In one of the best finals of modern times, the pair produced a sparkling standard of tennis, hitting each other with both barrels throughout. Djokovic’s record at the Australian Open speaks for itself, but it was far from a comfortable match for the Serbian, as Murray had him on the ropes for long periods.
The fireworks started early, with both players exchanging massive blows as the first few games went with serve. However, then came Murray’s chance to strike. The 27-year-old Scot took a 0-40 lead in the third game and had three opportunities to break, but Djokovic’s class shone through as he rescued the game without dropping another point.
The brilliance continued, with the 27-year-old Serbian winning the next three points to set up a break of the Murray serve for 3-1, per Eurosport:
At that point, it looked like it was going to be a long day for Murray. Djokovic just wasn’t letting up—the ground strokes were perfect, positioning exemplary and imagination outstanding.
The Scot found his opponent’s Achilles' heel, though, forcing him into the net, before winning a few vital points with well-placed lobs. Former star Pat Cash noticed Murray’s intelligent change of tactics, via BBC Sport’s David Law:
It worked, too, as Murray got himself back in the match with a break to make it 4-3. From then on, it was anyone’s set. The pair continued to play some outstanding tennis, both breaking a service game before heading to the lottery of a tiebreak.
The decisive point came at 5-5 in the breaker. Murray forced Djokovic wide with an exceptional forehand and was left with the simple task of keeping it in court to bring up set point, but he went long. Djokovic then accepted the invitation to go one set up with a 7-5 tiebreak victory, but BBC Tennis’ stats show just how close it was:
More of the same followed in the second set—mammoth games and a superb standard of tennis. Murray once again had chances to tie the set up, but costly errors saw Djokovic come back into it and force another tiebreak.
It was clear that Djokovic was there for the taking, though, as he appeared to struggle with fatigue in his legs. Murray took full advantage, winning the tiebreak 7-4.
The Scot was pumped. He wasn’t letting his head drop, even in the most unrecoverable positions, and that much led Sue Barker to predict he would emerge victorious, per BBC Sport:
Who do I think is going to win now? I would go with Murray. I've been impressed. At a set and a break down, I thought if he is going to become negative this is the time to do it. He didn't. He stayed positive and calm. That's what's impressed me.
The intensity was quite simply out of this world. The opening two sets took all of two-and-a-half hours, leading Murray’s brother Jamie to question how long the duo could keep it up:
Djokovic and Murray kept up their impeccable best into Set 3, with the latter springing out of the traps to take an early break.
Momentum was on the Scot’s side, but when Djokovic played a love service game in the third, the tide shifted. The Serbian won five of the next six games to take the third set 6-3, running Murray ragged all over the court.
At 2-0 to Murray at the start of the set and Djokovic complaining of an injury, that was the last score expected, but it turned out to be the decisive blow.
Djokovic had his opponent on the canvas, and he wasn’t in the mood to let him get back up.
He was quite simply unplayable in the final set. Murray’s head dropping had a little to do with it, but it was plain to see there was only going to be one champion. And as Murray placed his backhand into the net, Djokovic wrote his place in the history books.
A 6-0 scoreline in the final set was nothing more than Djokovic deserved, but credit Murray for the performance and class he showed early on.
The Scot now has to wait until the French Open in May for another shot at a Grand Slam, but all eyes will be on Djokovic for the spring tournament.
The French is the one Grand Slam title missing from his CV, but if he brings this form to Roland Garros, yet more history will be made.