MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect streak in six Australian Open finals with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory Sunday that consigned Andy Murray to a fifth defeat in championship deciders at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic equaled Roy Emerson’s long-standing record of six Australian Open titles and increased his career haul to 11 Grand Slam titles, including four of the last five, to join Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg at No. 5 on the all-time list.
“First of all I need to pay the respect to Andy and his team. Tough match, tough luck tonight,” Djokovic said. “You’re a great champion, great friend, very committed to this sport. I’m sure in the future you’re going to have many opportunities.”
Murray became only the second man to lose five finals at one major – Ivan Lendl lost five and won three U.S. Open finals in the 1980s.
The 28-year-old Murray had his share of distractions, leaving his pregnant wife in Britain – their first child is due in February – and his father-in-law being rushed to hospital by ambulance during the tournament.
“It’s been a tough few weeks for me away from the court,” Murray said, thanking his support team before turning his attention to his wife, Kim.
“You’ve been a legend the last two weeks. Thank you so much for all your support,” Murray said, choking back tears. “I’ll be on the next flight home.”
Djokovic had won 10 of his previous 11 matches against Murray and was 21-9 in their career meetings – including four finals at the Australian Open.
Again, he was just too good.
The top-ranked Djokovic broke to take a 2-0 lead and, after he’d hit a perfectly placed drop shot, a fan yelled: “Give him a chance Novak!”
He didn’t, racing to a 5-0 lead and serving out the first set in 30 minutes.
The second set contained long rallies and plenty of tension. Murray was yelling at himself and swiping his racket in anger, and Djokovic waved his racket in frustration as well.
After an exchange of breaks in the seventh and eighth games, Djokovic broke again in the 11th and closed out the set before taking an early break in the third set with a forehand winner around the post. Murray broke back in the sixth game and the set stayed with serve until the tiebreaker, which Djokovic dominated.
He raced to a 6-1 lead, helped by a double-fault from Murray, and clinched on his third match point with an ace.
He dropped to his hands and knees and kissed the court, slapping it with his right hand, and went to the stands to hug Boris Becker, his coach since 2014.
Murray was at Rod Laver Arena after 1 a.m. on Sunday, watching his older brother, Jamie, win the men’s doubles title.