World number one Novak Djokovic reasserted his dominance on the rest of the field on Sunday evening, dismantling world number two Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) to capture a record-tying sixth Australian Open title, and 11th Grand Slam overall.
Faultless Djokovic Cruises Through Opening Set
Beginning the match on the front foot, Djokovic meant business right from the outside. Despite a couple of early miscues, the world number one saved a break point with some massive hitting en route to holding to open proceedings in this highly-anticipated showpiece. Not long thereafter, the top seed, often regarded as the “Greatest Returner of All-Time”, made Murray pay for failing to convert an early break point opportunity by converting one himself, consequently mounting an early 2-0 lead. From there, Djokovic began to run away with the opening set. Moments after earning the early break, Djokovic consolidated the early advantage at love before breaking once more as Murray struggled to match the absurd depth on the five-time Australian Open champion’s ground strokes. Showing no signs of letting up, the world number one continued his merciless assault by consolidating the double break at the loss of just one point, leaving the world number two wondering what he could do to trouble the Serb. He couldn’t be too defensive nor could he be too offensive; Djokovic’s ruthless consistency that seemed to absorb pace time and time again paired with his new offensive game style made the final result look ominous for Murray, who knew the feeling of losing in a Grand Slam final all too well.
To his credit, Murray continued to fight and eventually got himself on the board. In the game that followed suit, Murray had his chances to recover one of the two breaks against him, but Djokovic was just too tough; the world number one utilizing his serve and trusty drop shot to great effect en route to successfully serving out the opening set 6-1.
Djokovic Clinches Decisive Break Late in Second Set
The second set began with a trio of holds from both men before Djokovic drew first blood once again. After failing to convert four break points at 1-1, the world number one was looking to be more efficient on the receiving end – especially on break points – and was keen to take his chances when they presented themselves. At 3-3, Djokovic benefited from a trio of untimely unforced errors from Murray before drawing first blood, breaking courtesy of yet another unforced error from the world number two.
Murray, however, was not prepared to go away so quickly, and soon found himself with opportunities to break straight back, which had come few and far between in this final. On his first break point of the set, the four-time Australian Open finalist turned defence into attack, running down every ball before hitting a stunning backhand cross court to recover the early break. In a crucial ninth game that followed suit, Djokovic had two break point opportunities but couldn’t convert any of them, much like in the early stages of the second set. Holding on for dear life, Murray would go on to hold, much to the delight of his very vocal supporters.
Despite the late fightback from Murray, Djokovic looked relatively unfazed, keeping his cool under pressure as he regained parity at five games apiece, and was soon knocking on the door once again to claim another break after saving a pair of game points. This time, the world number one made no mistake as he used his exceptional depth to clinch a seemingly decisive break, which he would go on to consolidate and win the second set 7-5.
Djokovic Seals the Deal in Straight Sets; Captures Sixth Australian Open Crown
Now with the momentum, Djokovic opened the third with an emphatic break of serve, and looked to be well on his way to a sixth Australian Open crown. However, after exchanging a pair of holds each, it was Murray who began to make his move on the receiving end once again, forcing the issue upon Djokovic and surprisingly, it was the world number one who faltered under the pressure, overcooking a backhand to hand the break back to Murray, consequently restoring parity at three-games-apiece. For the remainder of the set, the server dominated their respective service games, which meant this set would have to be decided in a tiebreak. Could Murray force a fourth? Or would Djokovic seal the deal in straight sets?
In that tiebreak, Murray faltered on serve for the first time since the early stages of the third, and that’s what ultimately costed him the set and match. After double faulting on the first point, the Brit handed the early mini-break to his Serbian counterpart, an advantage Djokovic would not relinquish for the rest of the seven-point shoot out. From there, the next three points went with serve before another untimely double fault from Murray handed Djokovic a double mini-break and a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak. That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the world number two as the world number one cruised to victory, sealing the deal with an ace down the T – his seventh of the match – to complete a comprehensive 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over one of his greatest rivals.
“I feel like I’ve been here before,” Murray, who has now lost all five of his Australian Open finals, said with a weak laugh during his speech. “I’d like to congratulate Novak for six Australian Opens, it’s an incredible feat. I’d like to thank my team for getting me into this position. Sorry I couldn’t get it done tonight. It’s been a tough few weeks for me away from the court and I thank all of you for your support in that.”
Murray also paid tribute to his wife Kim Sears, who is expected to give birth to the couple’s first child in Scotland at any time now. “Finally to my wife Kim: You’ve been a legend the last two weeks, thank you for all your support. I’ll be on the next flight home.”
“I need to pay the respect to Andy and his team for another tournament,” Djokovic said to begin his speech. “You are a great champion and a great friend. I’m sure in the future you are going to have more opportunities to fight for this trophy.”
“I would also like to wish you and Kim a healthy delivery of your baby and I hope you will experience a feeling like no other before, because that’s what happened to me and my wife.”
Djokovic also said he was “extremely honoured to be mentioned alongside legends of tennis”, which included Rod Laver, who sat in the front row, whom he ties with eleven Grand Slam singles titles, and Roy Emerson, whom he ties with six Australian Open championships. “It's a great privilege to match your record of six Australian Opens as one of the greatest players to ever play this game, so I want to wish him all the best.”