BRITISH No1 Andy Murray admits he is getting used to the heartbreak of losing grand slam finals after a brilliant Novak Djokovic beat him to the Australian Open in straight sets.
Third seed Djokovic dismissed Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to ensure the 75-year wait for a major winner from these shores lingers and remind the Scot of the crushing defeat he suffered to Roger Federer 12 months ago.
On that occasion Murray was reduced to tears. Yesterday, however, his eyes stayed dry – despite earning the unwanted distinction of becoming the first man to fail to win a singe set in three grand slam final appearances.
“It’s better than it was last year,” said Murray. “It is obviously tough and disappointing but I’ve got to deal with it.”
Last night in Melbourne was billed as Murray’s best chance yet to land his first grand slam, with a smooth progression to the final and both of the top two seeds Rafael Nadal and Federer already out.
But Serbian Djokovic (inset) swept to his second Australian Open title in breathtaking style, and Murray insisted his former rival on the junior circuit, who beat Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals, had been flawless.
“I think he would have beaten every other player on the tour tonight,” he added. “He served well, he didn’t make many mistakes from the back of the court, he moved really well and he hit the ball cleanly. He played great although I would have liked to have played better.”
While Djokovic, 23, flourished, Murray, the elder by seven days, was lacklustre, and the writing looked to be on the wall as soon as his serve was broken at 5-4 in the first set. The 2008 champion duly served out and then opened up a 5-0 lead in the second, from which Murray never recovered. Even when he did fashion a break early in the third, Djokovic immediately reasserted his authority by breaking back twice.
Murray, who had one day fewer to recover from his semi-final exertions, looked sluggish in the evening heat, but brushed off suggestions he had been carrying an injury.
“I thought I moved decent,” he said. “I could have moved better but, no, I wasn’t injured. Against Novak you need to be firing on all cylinders and I didn’t move as well as I would have liked.”
Djokovic pinpointed his snaring of the first set as the cornerstone of an impressive triumph. “The turning point was probably the last game of the first set when we had some incredible rallies from the baseline,” he said. “It was a great match. From the start to the last point I did what I intended to do tactically and what I prepared for.”
HAVEN’T WE BEEN HERE BEFORE? | MURRAY’S OTHER SLAM FINALS
Murray reached his very first grand slam final at the US Open in 2008, only to be emphatically beaten by Roger Federer 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in less than two hours
Federer was again the opponent when Murray made his next slam final, at last year’s Australian Open, and again he won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 7-6