Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has won his third successive Australian Open crown, beating Andy Murray. The 25-year-old Serbian recovered to win in four sets even after dropping a marathon opener.
Novak Djokovic and world number three Andy Murray were almost inseparable in the opening two sets in Melbourne, with both of them lasting more than one hour and going to a tiebreaker.
Scottish star Murray clinched the opener and then forced Djokovic to fend off three break points in the opening game of the second. Djokovic held on, though, and ultimately won the second set 7-6.
The world number one won the subsequent two sets by the comparatively comfortable margins of 6-3 and 6-2, claiming his third Australian Open title in a row. He became the first player of the Open era to do so and only the third in history, joining Australians Jack Crawford and Roy Emerson.
Djokovic was also able to exact revenge after Murray beat him in the US Open final four months ago to clinch his first ever Grand Slam.
"We've played so many thrilling matches in the past two years," Djokovic said. "I know there will be more to come. Bad luck on the night to Andy, but good luck for the rest of the season."
US groundstrokes aficionado Andre Agassi, himself a four-time winner on the Australian hard courts, handed Djokovic the trophy.
Murray, who was struggling with a hamstring problem and blistered feet by the end of the marathon three hours and 40 minutes of tennis, began losing the long back court rallies characteristic of both players' styles.
"I congratulate Novak," Murray said after the game. "His record here is absolutely incredible and there are very few people who have managed to do what he's done here. He's a very deserved champion."
Djokovic has now won four times in total at Melbourne, out of six career Grand Slam triumphs. Fellow world number one Victoria Azarenka won the women's singles trophy on Saturday.
msh/hc (AFP, dpa)