Australian Open: Murray loses roller coaster final to Djokovic

By Phil James

Djokovic defeated Murray 6-7(2) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-2

Andy Murray lost in the Australian Open final today, as Novak Djokovic became the first man to win three successive Australian titles since 1967.

Murray, who has now lost three times in the final at Melbourne Park, took the first set on a tie-breaker and appeared to be in good form heading into the second.

But Djokovic fought back to win the second set on a tie-break, before decisively taking the third and forth sets to win the match and the championship.

By that point Murray was suffering badly from blistered feet and only he will know quite how much the semi-final win over Roger Federer took out of him.

That match had Murray was on court for four hours on Friday night where as Djokovic defeated David Ferrer in under an hour and a half in his semi-final on Thursday.

The first two sets were a mirror image of each other; in the first Djokovic made most of the running, creating five break points but taking none of them.

Murray’s defence and his opponent’s unforced errors kept him in the game and he was then able to step up a gear in the tie-break, taking it convincingly with a loss of only two points.

Murray carried his improved serve and ground strokes into the second set but like Djokovic in the first, could not take advantage, failing to break from 0-40.

Both players were serving well and though Murray was on top he could not force a break of serve.

Once again a tie-break ensured and again saw a change in momentum, this time Djokovic the more aggressive taking it 7-3.

By this time the match was taking its toll mentally and physically on Murray and the change-over saw the physio treating what was left of his blistered feet.

Murray was able to hang in the match until midway through the third set but he could not get a foothold or be as aggressive as he needed to be against an opponent who looked like he could play all day.

Whether the injury hampered Murray’s serve or Djokovic started to read it is hard to tell, but the Serb was able to break three times in the last two sets to take the match and the title.

In the end it came down to which player could be the most aggressive and whether by strategy, fatigue or injury, that player was the world number one from Serbia.

While Murray was discouraged from coming to the net at an early stage, as the match went on Djokovic started to approach more and more as his booming but accurate ground strokes yielded easy volleys.

When receiving the trophy, Djokovic said on court: “It’s an incredible feeling to win this trophy once more, it’s definitely my favourite Grand Slam.”

With Rafael Nadal due to return to the tour in February, the tournament dynamics will change again, especially for Murray and Federer.

On one hand Nadal is a great player and someone else who can win titles, both Murray and Federer struggle to beat him; on the other hand, the draws are significantly lopsided without Nadal.

With all respect due to David Ferrer, the top four are on a different level and when one of them does not play, especially in the slams, the number one seed tends to have an easier route to the final.