MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open title and his eighth career Grand Slam while extending Andy Murray’s misery at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic beat Murray 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0 in Sunday’s final, relegating the Scotsman to runner-up status for the fourth time in four tries in the Australian Open final. Murray had lost twice previously to Djokovic — in 2011 and 2013 — and to Roger Federer in 2010.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic, meanwhile, is a perfect 5-for-5 in Australian Open finals.
“There were a lot of turning points in the match,” Djokovic said. “Regardless of the record I have here, we both knew we had equal chances to win. It was a cat-and-mouse fight, it always is with us.”
Djokovic swung momentum in a close match with a service break in the eighth game of the third set, winning four straight points. When he took a 4-0 lead in the last set, he smacked his fist hard against his chest in celebration.
At the end of the match, Djokovic threw his racket into the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
Roy Emerson, the only other man with five or more Australian titles, was in the crowd and Djokovic acknowledged the presence of the six-time champion.
“I’m so grateful to be standing here as a champion for the fifth time, and to be in the elite group of players,” Djokovic said.
Murray sat slumped over in his chair after the match, awaiting the presentations, and once again received the runner-up plate instead of the trophy.
“It’s been my most consistent Grand Slam of my career. I haven’t been quite able to win, but the support I’ve received here has been amazing,” Murray said. “I’ll try and come back next year and hopefully have a slightly different outcome in the final.”
Murray said he had chances to win the match.
“Obviously I had opportunities in the first three sets,” Murray said. “In the fourth set, I mean, he was just ripping everything. Returns he was hitting on the baseline. Once he got up a break, he just loosened up and was just going for his shots. I couldn’t recover.
“Novak has won five times here now, there’s no disgrace, obviously, in losing to him.”
Djokovic appeared to be troubled by a leg ailment in the third set, and it distracted Murray.
“I had a crisis at the end of the second, beginning of the third (set), I needed some time to regroup,” Djokovic said. “I just had weakness, I couldn’t call for medical because I had no reason.”
Djokovic served for the first set after breaking Murray in the eighth game, but Murray broke back. After that game, Djokovic had a trainer attend to this right thumb.
He double-faulted to open the tiebreaker but then, after Murray took a 2-1 lead, won five of the next six points to regain control. He clinched the set when Murray netted a backhand service return.
In the second set, Djokovic saved a set point in the 10th game and Murray saved three break points in the 11th before it went to the tiebreaker. Sixth-seeded Murray dominated the breaker to lead 6-2, securing four set points before clinching it on Djokovic’s serve.
The second set was delayed for about five minutes after the seventh game when a court invader protesting Australia’s refugee policies was removed by security after stepping on to the court. Other spectators in the stadium unfurled a political banner. Organizers said two people were arrested, and the court invasion was dealt with swiftly.
There was a bigger cheer for Djokovic when the introductions were made, but plenty of Scottish flags in the stands. Some Serbian fans yelled “Adje Nole” — Serbian for “Come on Nole,” which is Djokovic’s nickname.
Before the match began, Andy Murray’s fiancee, Kim Sears, caused a stir. She was dressed in an oversized T-shirt with a message that poked fun at the widespread attention paid to her use of colorful language during Murray’s semifinal win over Tomas Berdych.
Rather than shy away from the issue, Sears’ t-shirt for the final showed a sense of humor. It read: “Parental Advisory Explicit Content.”
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