BRITAIN’S Andy Murray insisted losing a grand slam final had never felt so good after narrowly failing to make history in a titanic climax to the Australian Open yesterday.
World No1 Novak Djokovic fought back from a set down to beat Murray 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3,) 6-3, 6-2 and become the first man in 46 years to win three consecutive titles in Melbourne.
Murray had been bidding to follow his maiden grand slam title, claimed at last year’s US Open, with victory in his next – a feat yet to be achieved in the Open Era – but instead slipped to his fifth slam final defeat.
However he drew solace from going so close, ending second seed Roger Federer’s hold over him in Majors, and the progress he has made over a landmark six months, in which he has, he says, played “the best tennis of my life”.
“I made the Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the US Open, I was close here as well. It was close,” added Murray, who failed to take three break points early in the second set.
“I know no one’s ever won a slam, the immediate one after winning their first one. It’s not the easiest thing to do and I got extremely close. So I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I’m going the right direction.”
Murray increasingly struggled to give chase in some epic baseline rallies as the match reached its fourth hour, but he refused to blame a blister on his big toe that required treatment after the second set.
“You get them. It happens. It was just a bit sore when I was running around,” he said.
“It’s not like pulling a calf muscle or something. It just hurts when you run, but it’s not something that stops you from playing.
“Ninety per cent of the players on tour will have played this tournament with some sort of blister or problem. It had no bearing on the result.”
The Scot also chose not to dwell on a bizarre incident in the second set tie-break, when a falling bird feather caught his eye as prepared for his second serve at 2-2. He stopped, gathered himself, and double faulted.
“I could’ve served,” he said. “It caught my eye. I thought it was a good idea to move it. Maybe it wasn’t.”