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Sweet 16 as FedEx blasts past Murray

Roger Federer poses with the trophy after victory in his men's singles final match against Andy Murray. (AFP)

By Reuters

The master did it again. Roger Federer has a 16th Grand Slam title, a fourth in Australia and his dominance over men's tennis shows no sign of ever ending.

Britain's long wait continues. The added burden of 74 years of expectation was too much for Andy Murray and he was unable to produce his best when it mattered most.

The Scotsman was brave but Federer was just too good, winning Sunday's Australian Open final 6-3 6-4 7-6 in two hours and 41 minutes. It was not so much a match as a tennis lesson.

At the presentation ceremony, Murray broke down in tears, just as Federer had done when he won in 2006 and again last year when he lost to Rafa Nadal.

"I can cry like Roger. It's just a shame I can't play like him," Murray said.

Murray's time may still come. He is just 22 and has already played in two Grand Slam finals, at the US Open two years ago and now in Australia.

He might have lost both in straight sets to Federer but there is no shame in that. The apprentice's best years are still ahead of him and Britain may yet get their first male Grand Slam champion since Fred Perry won the US Open in 1936.

"You're too good a player not to win a Grand Slam so don't worry about it," Federer told the teary-eyed Briton.

Federer's game was not quite as clinical and precise as it used to be, he double-faulted and hit the ball into the stands like everyone else. He is mortal after all.

But his grip on the game has never been tighter. He may not be able to run as fast as some of his younger rivals but his court craft and ability to handle pressure situations have kept him well ahead of the chasing pack.

Rarely has this been better illustrated than Sunday's final at Melbourne Park.

Murray went into the match full of hope and confidence after playing the best tennis of his life to get to the final.

There were moments when he was able to frustrate Federer and put the world number one under pressure, captivating the Rod Laver Arena crowd with some absorbing rallies.

In the opening set, he broke Federer's serve with a sweeping cross-court winner and in the third set he broke him again, with another sweetly struck winner.

Murray even served for the third set in the ninth game and had five set points in the tie-breaker that would have sent the match into a fourth but each time he was unable to convert his opportunities. Federer wasted two match points in the tie-break but took the third that came his way with Murray lamely slapping a backhand into the net.

"I'm over the moon, winning this again," Federer said. "I think I played some of the best tennis of my life again the past two weeks.

"This is also special because it's my first Grand Slam as a father. I'm looking forward to them watching me next year maybe."


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