|Novak Djokovic celebrates his win against Andy Murray for the men's singles title at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan. 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic)
Melbourne, Australia - Serbian star Novak Djokovic flattened Britain's Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in Sunday's men's Australian Open final to capture his second title in Melbourne in four years.
The 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Djokovic won his first Aussie Open crown, and first Grand Slam title, here in Melbourne in 2008, beating France's Jo- Wilfried Tsonga in that finale.
The third-seeded Djokovic and fifth seed Murray were locked in a tight first set before Djokovic held for a 5-4 lead and then broke his Scottish counterpart to take the stanza. Murray decided to challenge the final point of the set when he thought his forehand clipped the baseline, but Djokovic took the set in 59 minutes.
A rattled Murray would watch Djokovic win seven straight games en route to a commanding 5-0 lead in the second set, which went to the Serb in a mere eight games in 40 minutes.
In the third set, Djokovic tallied a trio of service breaks, including one that gave him a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve for the championship. The Serb held his serve to win the title, as Murray set up the championship point with a running forehand off the net cord, and lost it with one final forehand into the net at Melbourne Park's Rod Laver Arena.
Each 23 years old and born a week apart, Djokovic and Murray are very good friends and often practice together. At the coin toss before the match, Djokovic smiled from ear to ear for photos, while Murray appeared to be nervous.
When the match was over, the two men hugged at the net, then Djokovic threw his racquet, his shirt, and his shoes into the crowd.
"We have known each other for such a long time," Djokovic said about Murray. "It was difficult tonight."
Djokovic wore down Murray with some brilliant defense in the resounding victory on Day 14 of the fortnight. The athletic Serb prevailed in 2 hours, 39 minutes, with the help of 47 unforced errors from Murray, compared to 33 from the Serb. Djokovic piled up seven breaks, compared to three for the British loser.
"I'll try to keep it together this year," said Murray, who cried on the court after losing in the final here a year ago. He said he'll have "more chances in the future" as the crowd chanted "Andy! Andy!"
Djokovic, who lost only one set in Melbourne over the last two weeks, is now 2-2 in his career Grand Slam finals, while Murray fell to 0-3 and has lost all nine of his sets in those matches.
Murray has been the Aussie runner-up the last two years, with his setback here a year ago coming at the hands of Roger Federer, who lost to Djokovic in straight sets here on Thursday. Murray also lost to Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open finale.
"It was better than it was last year," Murray said. "I thought Novak played unbelievably well. It's tough, but you have to deal with it."
A frustrated Murray was trying to give Britain its first men's major titlist in 75 years, when Fred Perry titled at the U.S. Open in 1936. Britain has failed to produce a men's Grand Slam champion in the last 280 major tournaments.
"You always have to try to find a way, to believe," Murray said. "When I got ahead in some games, even in just points, he was sticking up lobs that were landing on the baseline, passing shots that were on the line. I broke his serve twice in the third set and still lost 6-3."
The Belgrade native Djokovic is now 5-3 against Murray, who had won the last three meetings in their lifetime series. Djokovic hadn't beaten the Scot since 2008. This marked their first-ever Grand Slam encounter.
The 6-foot-3 Djokovic improved to 19-13 in his career ATP finals, while the 6- foot-3 Dunblane native Murray dropped to 16-9.
Only four men have captured major championships since the 2005 Aussie Open, with Federer winning 12, Rafael Nadal claiming nine, Djokovic taking two, and Juan Martin del Potro coming out on top at the 2009 U.S. Open.
The hot Djokovic ended his 2010 season by leading Serbia to its first-ever Davis Cup title.
Djokovic's first-place check is worth $2.186 million, while Murray settled for $1.093 million as the runner-up.