Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday to defend his Australian Open title. Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to win three consecutive Australian Opens. He how has six Grand Slam titles.
Despite having the best returners in the game, the match featured 31 straight holds before Djokovic finally broke through to break Murray in the third set. The Serb ran away with the match from there as Murray, who endured a four-hour match against Roger Federer two days ago, struggled with blisters and a hamstring problem.
Game-by-game analysis of the match after the jump.
7:45 a.m. ET | Trophy Ceremony
Murray a bit slow and careful in his walk to the podium for his runner-up trophy. Great ovation from the crowd which was very pro-Djokovic through the match. He praises Djokovic's ability to win a third title and congratulates the Serb's team as well. Finally he thanks the crowd -- and do I detect a bit of a catch in his throat there? -- for being fair throughout the match.
Djokovic is up next and lifts the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup once again. He congratulates Murray and his team and says he looks forward to more finals.Hard not to notice the very sincere words from both Djokovic and Murray about the tournament itself. Murray on tournament director Craig Tiley, "He just gets it." Djokovic effusive as well. This tournament has set the bar with respect to the treatment of the players. Tough act to follow for the other three.
7:26 a.m. ET | Djokovic wins the match 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1.
If this tournament has reminded us of anything it's that you need a little bit of luck to win one of these things. Down 0-30, Djokovic hits an overhead that clips the tape and lands on the other side. Could have just as easily landed on his own. He goes on to hold and his third straight Australian Open title and sixth overall, is his.
It wasn't a particularly memorable final but that's consistent for this entire tournament which was generally pretty lackluster. Apart from Djokovic's fourth round match against Stanislas Wawrinka and maybe Murray's five-set win over Federer, the last two weeks haven't featured much to remember.
The final stat-line:
Djokovic: 8 aces, 63% first serves in, 66% second serve points won, 47 winners, 61 unforced errors, 3 for 11 on break points.
Murray: 7 aces, 60% first serves in, 46% second serve points won, 29 winners, 46 unforced errors, 0 for 4 break points.
After losing that second set and having to deal with foot blisters, Murray's form dropped precipitously. He didn't hit an ace in the last two sets, his winning percentage on first serves went from 88 percent to 70 percent and while he hit 22 winners through the first two sets, he only hit seven for the rest of the match. Lots of credit to Djokovic for that, obviously. He simply got stronger as the match went on.
7:20 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, leads 5*-2.
They trade holds and Djokovic will serve to become the first man in the Open Era to complete a three-peat at the Australian Open.
7:12 a.m. ET | Djokovic breaks, leads 4*-1.
Murray's trying desperately to hold his serve and stay in the match but Djokovic is making it painful. The Serb isn't going for outright winners. He wants to out-rally Murray from the baseline and punish his body and that's exactly what he does. After holding easily Djokovic breaks after a long deuce game.
Murray's leaving it all out there, though. But Djokovic looks better now than he did in the first set. He's practically reverse-aging now.
6:57 a.m. ET | Djokovic breaks, leads 2*-1.
Murray jaws with the umpire during the changeover. He's unhappy with the umpire's inability to control the crowd as the idiot hecklers have interrupted play a number of times in that second set to Murray's detriment.
Murray serves first and quickly falls behind o-30. But he plays the best point he's played in over 30 minutes to get it to 30-30. He hugs the baseline and takes control of the point from the first stroke and refuses to let go, finishing with a dipping forehand into the corner. He holds. Huge. Match over if he doesn't.
Murray is willing himself on and he earns a break point thanks to some charitable misses. Djokovic sends the serve wide and Murray goes with a backhand slice return that sails long. If he's 100 percent healthy I think he makes the move to hit a two handed return there. It's clear that he's hurting. He can't stop and start the way he'd want to. Djokovic holds.
Chris Fowler has an apt description for the types of points played when Murray and Djokovic meet: attrition points. Patrick McEnroe goes the football route, saying it's "a ground game" or "a battle for field position". All that is to say, this no one is going to be popping this match into the DVD player anytime soon. Not a whole lot of memorable points but the drama is still incredibly high.
It's a struggle for Murray now as he tries to hold. He hits his fourth doublefault of the match to drop into a 15-30 hole. Heading into this match he only hit two doublefaults all tournament. Djokovic earns two break points as he smartly pulls Murray wide to the backhand and then back to the forehand. Murray's legs and feet just can't make the transition.
Djokovic breaks for a 3-1 lead and shoots a glare to his box. Unless Murray's racket gets on fire and he starts blasting winners from nowhere, this one's done.
6:39 a.m. ET | Djokovic wins the set 6-3 and leads two sets to one.
Nevermind what I said in that last post. Djokovic is digging in now.
You know what's not good for Andy Murray's foot? A 36-shot rally on the first point on his own serve that he loses followed by another 20-plus shot rally that he loses. Djokovic fires a forehand winner to earn his first break points since the first set at 0-40.
Two forehand errors from Djokovic helps Murray save two but he can't save a third.
Ladies a gentlemen WE HAVE A BREAK OF SERVE after two hours and 51 minutes. Djokovic holds to love and he's a set away from the three-peat.
6:29 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads, 4-3*.
The energy level has dropped and it looks like the trainer will come back out at the changeover to look at Murray's nasty foot again. Seriously, HD television was not made for close-ups of skin falling off one's foot.
Both guys are playing the scoreboard now. They're giving away some early points to conserve energy and reengaging if the score gets to 30-30 or 40-30. A marginal detente, if you will.
Hold. Hold. 31-straight holds.
6:20 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads, 3-2*.
More holding. 29 straight holds now. Are we sure this is Murray vs. Djokovic? Seems a heck of a lot more like Isner vs. Karlovic.
6:14 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads, 2-1*.
Djokovic serves first in the third set and Murray's footwork isn't exactly firing after getting his foot retaped for what looked like blisters. Patrick McEnroe doesn't think Murray can win if his defense drops by even five percent. He's got more octane in his game these days but I have to agree. Has to be so disappointed to lose that second set. Needs to settle himself. Look for him to try and slow things down and conserve some energy early in this set.
Everyone holds. That's 27 straight holds between these two.
5:58 a.m. ET | Djokovic wins the tiebreak 7-4. One set all.
Murray leads, 1-0: Murray holds with a big serve.
Tied, 1-1: Djokovic responds with a big first serve on the tee. Didn't make a single first serve in the 1st tiebreak so that's already an improvement.
Tied, 2-2: Both men exchange errors. Still on serve.
Djokovic leads 3-2: Can you believe it. Djokovic gets the minibreak when a feather floats down to the court forcing Murray to reset on his second serve. He doublefaults.
Djokovic leads 4-2: He berated himself for going down the line too early in the rally on the last changeover. Shows some patience here, going crosscourt with Murray until it's Murray who pulls the trigger on a backhand down the line wide. Murray tells the umpire he wants to see the trainer at the end of the set. Uh oh.
Djokovic leads 5-2: Big serve wide.
Djokovic leads 5-3: Djokovic sends a forehand long.
Djokovic leads 6-4: First point Murray loses on his first serve in the set but it wasn't easy. Another punishing rally ends when Murray finally nets a backhand.
Djokovic wins 7-4: Murray slices a backhand into the net.
Are you kidding me? A feather???
One set all after two hours and 13 minutes. The trainer is out to look at Murray's foot.
5:48 a.m. ET | Djokovic holds, 6-6.
Murray is two points from the set at 30-30 as Djokovic hits his first doublefault of the set. But he rebounds with a safer first serve that Murray leaves short and Djokovic eventually finishes the point at the net. He holds.
Tiebreak time. Again. Can Novak steal this one the way Murray stole the 1st?
5:44 a.m. ET | Murray leads, 6-5*.
Big hold for Djokovic at 15 and he's starting to grunt and roar. Look out.
He wins the first point of the game but Murray snuffs out any chance of a break with some big serving. That shot has improved as the match has worn on. If you can get some cheap points on your serve against Djokovic, you're in a good spot.
Djokovic will serve to force a tiebreak after the changeover.
5:34 a.m. ET | Murray leads, 5-4*.
Another set of easy holds though you have to think Murray's starting to feel the frustration of not breaking Djokovic yet. He knows Djokovic is going through a lull but to the Serb's credit he's just focusing on holding his serve right now and hoping this dip passes.
If he gets it to a tiebreak this set goes 50-50.
5:28 a.m. ET | Murray leads, 4-3*.
Easy holds for both. Murray still looks like the better player right now. In the first set he hit 9 winners and 12 unforced errors. Already in the second set he's hit 9 winners to only 5 unforced errors. He's cleaned it up nicely.
5:20 a.m. ET | Murray leads, 3-2*.
Murray gets it to deuce but Djokovic holds. I think our own Andrew Lawrence hit the nail on the head here:
Djokovic is still misfiring off the baseline. Keeps trying to go down the lines and to get depth and he's sending it long more often than not. Murray's speed is clearly in his head. Murray holds at 15. Highlight of that game was Djokovic punting a ball in frustration and throwing his racket.
5:10 a.m. ET | Murray leads, 2-1*.
Great stat from ESPN: After struggling with his first serve throughout that first set, Murray didn't miss one during the tiebreak. Meanwhile, Djokovic didn't make a single one.
No let down from Murray to start the second set. He stands right on the baseline and runs Djokovic completely ragged as the Serb can't figure out how to hit through him. He holds easily for a 1-0 lead.
Djokovic is completely discombobulated and drops to 0-40 on his serve. These are Murray's first break points of the match. Djokovic saves all three to get to deuce but he dodged a major bullet at 15-40. Floated a forehand into the middle of the court and Murray mishits his backhand long. Horrible miss and it cost him big.
Djokovic holds. That might just kickstart him again.
Murray holds. Still no breaks of serve between these two.
4:53 a.m. ET | Tiebreak
Murray leads, 1-0: Novak starts with a double fault.
Murray leads, 2-0: Murray pounding with his forehand. Best he's hit it all set.
Murray leads, 3-0: Djokovic takes a big cut at a forehand down the line and sends it long.
Murray leads, 4-0: Long rally and Murray finally mixes it up with a slice forehand that Djokovic slices back long. Murray sent a message in that rally that he can go all night if he needs to. He looks the fresher man right now.
Murray leads, 4-1: They're sucking air now after a 33-shot rally ends with a Djokovic overhead that lands right on the line. No really, they're literally sucking for air right now.
Murray leads 5-1: After that exhausting fifth point, Djokovic pulls the ripcord early and sends a forehand long.
Murray leads, 6-1: Big serve and forehand winner crosscourt for Murray. Five set points for the Brit as Judy Murray fires a big fistpump.
Murray leads, 6-2: Djokovic fires a wide serve and follows it up with a bullet backhand down the line for a winner.
Murray wins, 7-2: Djokovic sends a forehand long and Murray, who didn't see a break point for the entire set plays a perfect tiebreak to take the first set. Federer did that to him twice in the semifinal. You can't say Andy isn't a quick learner.
4:42 a.m. ET | Murray holds 6-6.
Tiebreak! Their first set tiebreak at the U.S. Open went 12-10 and took over 20 minutes. Djokovic won a tiebreak in Shanghai 13-11 over Murray.
Here we go.
4:38 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads 6-5*.
This has been great tennis so far but neither man has unlocked his best yet. Djokovic wants to be offensive while Murray is trying to get his first serve to click. It's let him down a bit but the percentages are starting to creep up.
Both men hold easily.
Let's check in on the stats:
Djokovic: 3 aces, 1 doublefault, 68% first serves, 80% second serve points won, 12 winners, 17 unforced errors, 0 for 5 on break points, 11 for 13 at the net.
Murray: 2 aces, 0 doublefaults, 61% first serves, 69% second serve points won, 7 winners, 11 unforced errors, 0 for 0 on break points, and 3 for 5 at the net.
4:29 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads 5-4*.
So far Murray hasn't served his best but he's been the cleaner player, hitting 6 winners to just 7 unforced to start the eighth game. Djokovic is the one taking the risk even if it costs him, with 9 winners to 13 unforced. That offense gets him his fifth break point of the set, which Murray saves with a big serve and big forehand to hold. I'm not sure which is more slippery: Murray or the traction on Djokovic's shoes. He's looking at his camp and frustrated with his shoes.
4:19 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads 4-3*.
Great response from Djokovic after being pushed to deuce in the fifth game. He earns two break points immediately on Murray's serve and Murray does well to fend them off to get to deuce. But Djokovic earns a third break point after a 24-shot rally (the longest of the match so far) has him running Murray side to side until he opens up the court for a backhand winner.
Murray saves it with the help of a big first serve and then saves a fourth break point after another punishing rally where, interestingly, Djokovic goes for a big backhand looking to end the rally. Everyone's been talking about Murray's fitness heading into this match so that was an interesting tell from Djokovic.
Murray fires down two big first serves gets the hold after saving four break points. Great effort.
On the whole, Djokovic has come out the tighter of the two but he goes full stretch and lands prone on the ground lunging for a ball after Murray wrong-foots him. Of course he won it, as Murray has to leave the whole court open after tracking down the short reply. Only Novak .
He holds at 15 and we're still on serve.
4:02 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads, 3-2*.
Murray holds at love again. Hasn't lost a point on serve yet.
Djokovic misfiring more off the ground. He's already hit eight UFEs to Murray's one. Murray gets the game to deuce but Djokovic holds after a brutal rally that sees both guys play their patented brands of defense. Murray gets to the net and hits a sharp angle drop-volley but Djokovic gets to it and threads the needle down the line to hold.
Asleep? That point woke you up.
3:53 a.m. ET | Djokovic leads, 2-1*.
The crowd sounds pretty even as the match begins. Thank goodness. If I never have to watch another match with more awkward player-crowd dynamics than last night's women's final involving Victoria Azarenka, it'll be too soon.
Easy holds to start the match. In fact, Murray holds at love without hitting a first serve. Might see this for the next few games. These guys know better than to go big early.
Djokovic holds with an ace and heads to the chair for the changeover. Murray challenges. It was in.
3:44 a.m. ET | Warm-up.
In case you want to know how Murray plans to beat Djokovic tonight here's Ivan Lendl giving the game plan.
It's another cool night on Rod Laver Arena and there's already talk about the breezy conditions. Of course, Murray was the one who handled windy conditions better on his way to the U.S. Open title in September. The Murray camp says their man isn't feeling any effects from his four-hour semifinal on Friday night.
I think that's Jon's way of saying Murray left his Adidas kit in the dryer for a bit too long. I guess Judy no longer does his laundry?
Murray wins the toss and elects to receive. Both men have been firing on their serves all tournament, with Murray hitting 21 aces against Federer alone. We'll see how those numbers hold up here though, as both men are two of the best returners in the game. Interesting stat raised by Darren Cahill on ESPN: Murray has never served more than 9 aces in any of his 17 matches against Djokovic, but that high of nine came last fall at the U.S. Open. He won.
In the off-court battle it's Kevin Spacey vs. Vlade Divac. Love that Andre Agassi is in the crowd and will be helping with the trophy ceremony. He picked Murray before the tournament but has told BBC he's picking Novak here in the final.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic faces No. 3 Andy Murray in the Australian Open final at 3:30 a.m. ET. Join Courtney Nguyen for game-by-game analysis as Djokovic attempts to become the first man to win three straight Australian Opens and Murray tries to become the first man to follow his first Grand Slam title with his second in back-to-back Slams.