Djokovic beats Murray to win Australian Open title

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World number one Novak Djokovic won a fifth Australian Open title and his eighth Grand Slam Sunday, grinding down Britain's Andy Murray in four sets to heap more misery on the Scot.

Djokovic won 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-0 in 3hr 39min to stretch his formidable record on the Melbourne hardcourts to winning five from five finals in eight years.

Only Australian Roy Emerson, who was in the crowd and handed him the trophy, has won more Australian Opens with six in the 1960s.

"I am so privileged and honoured and grateful to be standing here as a champion for the fifth time and to be in the elite group of players with Sir Roy Emerson and Rod Laver and all the legends of our sport," said the Serb.

"It's an honour playing in front of you, thank you very much."

Djokovic has now beaten Murray in three of his four Australian final losses following earlier wins in 2011 and 2013, although the Scot mastered him in his two major triumphs at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon.

"Tough luck tonight, Andy, you are a great competitor, you fight a lot and I want to congratulate your team and wish you all the best for the rest of the season," he said.

The victory means Djokovic stays at world number one on the next ATP rankings when they are released on Monday, with Murray moving to four from his current sixth.

"We have put in a lot of hard work to try and get back in this position after what was a difficult year last year," said Murray, referring to injuries that dogged his 2014 season.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't quite do it tonight but I was a little bit closer than I was a few months ago and I will keep working hard to get there."

Murray put Djokovic under immediate pressure with three break points in the third game of the opening set, played in cool and windy conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

But the Serb fought back to hold after an almighty 27-stroke rally and an ace.

Djokovic struck in the next game, breaking Murray to take an early 3-1 lead.

It was hard-fought tennis and the Scot worked his way back by breaking his rival on his third break point in the seventh game.

Djokovic jammed the thumb of his serving hand when he slipped chasing a low volley and needed treatment at the next changeover.

It seemed to bother him briefly only and he broke the Scot a second time before being broken back as he served for the opening set, taking it to a tiebreaker.  

The top seed trailed 2-4 in the tiebreaker but then rattled off five of the next six points to claim the opening set in 72 minutes.

Undeterred, Murray broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set before Djokovic hit back with a double break as the Scot looked in trouble with Djokovic stringing together 13 straight points.

The final was then interrupted by a security scare for five minutes when political activists unfurled a banner in support of refugees.

One of them jumped on court with security guards ringing both players as at least four protestors were escorted out of the stadium.

The stoppage worked in Murray's favour as he broke Djokovic's service to level the set at 4-4.

The final went to a second tiebreak in which Murray prevailed 7-4 to level the hard-fought contest.

Djokovic suffered an immediate let-down, dropping his opening service in the third set, but he stormed back with a double break to edge in front two sets to one as Murray flagged.

Fired-up, the top seed then split the final set wide open, racing through the fourth set against a spent and frustrated Murray with a triple break to surge to victory.

Second set

Britain's Andy Murray fought back to take the second set and level at 1-1 in the Australian Open final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Murray won a fiercely-contested tiebreak 7-4 to claim the 80-minute second set. Djokovic took the opening set 7-6 (7/5).

First set

World number one Novak Djokovic won the opening set in a tiebreaker over Britain's Andy Murray in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

There were two service breaks each before the Serb took the tiebreaker 7-5 to claim the first set in 72 minutes.

Preview

For two men who have accomplished so much in their closely intertwined careers, the Australian Open final between friends Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on Sunday could achieve a number of firsts.

Should Djokovic beat Murray he will become the first man in the Open era to win five titles in Melbourne and be one away from Roy Emerson's record of six, won before the game went professional in 1968.

Victory will also allow him to reclaim his mantle as the king of Melbourne Park, having reached the final in four of the past five years.
 
"Getting to the finals is already a great achievement ... but now this is the match for which you have worked for now two months," Djokovic said after he beat last year's champion Stan Wawrinka in the semi-final. "This is where you want to be.

"This is why you put all these hours on and off the court, trying to get yourself in a position to win grand slam trophy, because that's what matters the most."

Djokovic is bidding for his eighth Grand Slam title and has a superior 15-8 career record over Murray.

He has also won seven of the last eight matches, while in his run of three successive Melbourne Park titles, he beat Murray twice, in 2011 and 2013.

"There's no clear favourite. But ... the record I have in finals against him here in Australia, we played couple times, can serve maybe as a slight mental edge," Djokovic said.

"But not much."

Rewriting history

While the history is against Murray, the Scot is used to rewriting it.

It would be his first title at Melbourne Park, from his fourth final appearance, the most required in the Open era to win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

It would also end another long barren streak for British men's tennis, as he would be the first British man since Fred Perry in 1934 to clinch the Australian title.

Ending long losing streaks back to the days of Perry is something the 27-year-old Scot is becoming accustomed to.

He became the first British man since Perry to win a grand slam title in 76 years when he clinched the U.S. Open in 2012 and the first to win Wimbledon in 77 years in 2013.

Both times he beat Djokovic in the final.

It would also be his first under new coach Amelie Mauresmo, with the Scot coming out after his tempestuous semi-final victory over Thomas Berdych to defend their working together.

Murray's form last year was criticised, with some pundits putting it down to Mauresmo's influence, but the sixth seed said the pair had barely worked together at all before the end of 2014.

"I feel like I'm playing well again," Murray said on Saturday. "I think this tournament's been obviously important for me just because of some of the results I had at the end of last year.

"It shows as well that last year, although it was a tough year, it wasn't that bad.

"I feel like things have been going the right direction the last couple months."

His improvements at Melbourne Park have been noticed by Djokovic.

"His game at the end of 2014 season, maybe people were not giving him such a great chances to get to the finals," Djokovic said.

"(But) he feels that he's more relaxed on the court and he can swing through his shots from the baseline.

"I think forehand has improved, judging by the matches he has played ... compared to a few months ago.

"He's also got a big serve. I think if he serves well, that's a huge confidence boost and advantage for him.

"I think the way he's been playing, he already knows what it takes to win a grand slam title ... so I'm sure that we both are going to go out and give our best."

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