• Andy Murray has now lost five finals in the Australian Open after latest defeat by Novak Djokovic 
  • The Serb and World No 1 raced ahead and took the first set 6-1 as Murray struggled in the opening stages 
  • Former Wimbledon champion lost the second set 7-5 before losing the third set on a tiebreak 7-3
  • Djokovic wins record-equalling sixth Australian Open title with 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 victory

Mike Dickson for the Daily Mail

A remarkable Australian Open turned out to have the ending everyone predicted when Novak Djokovic carried off his sixth title and Andy Murray headed home empty-handed again.

The 28 year-old Scot could not remove world number one from his ultimate comfort zone and went down 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and 53 minutes.

Murray was unlikely to waste much time before heading straight back to England to be with wife Kim, who is due to give birth. Given the distractions he has faced here, reaching the final was a noble effort, but there was an air of Groundhog Day about the climax. 

Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after claiming a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title having defeating Andy Murray

Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after claiming a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title having defeating Andy Murray

Djokovic celebrates victory with his hands in the air after beating Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 during Sunday's Australian Open final

Djokovic celebrates victory with his hands up before punching the air after beating Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 during the Australian Open final

Djokovic kisses the Melbourne Park court after winning his 11th Grand Slam title to tie him with legends Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver 

Djokovic kisses the Melbourne Park court after winning his 11th Grand Slam title to tie him with legends Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver 

Djokovic holds the trophy and Murray poses with the runners up shield after losing the Australian Open final for a fifth straight time

Djokovic kisses the trophy – his 11th Grand Slam title – in the dressing room after beating Murray in the final once more

Murray jokingly admitted ‘I feel like I have been here before’ after taking to the mic to speak to the crowd following the final defeat

Murray reacts with disappointment after losing his fifth Australian Open title - three of the previous four defeats came against Djokovic

Murray reacts with disappointment after losing his fifth Australian Open title – three of the previous four defeats came against Djokovic

Murray stretches to play a forehand as the Scot and former Wimbledon champion struggled in the first set against the World No 1

Murray stretches to play a forehand as the Scot and former Wimbledon champion struggled in the first set against the World No 1

Djokovic stretches and manages to stay on his feet as the World No 1 returns a low ball to Murray during the pair's final clash

Djokovic stretches and manages to stay on his feet as the World No 1 returns a low ball to Murray during the pair’s final clash

Murray cut a frustrated figure as defeat by Djokovic meant the former Wimbledon champion has now lost five Australian Open finals
Murray looks on during the defeat by Djokovic

Murray cut a frustrated figure as defeat by Djokovic meant the former Wimbledon champion has now lost five Australian Open finals

The World No 2 was outplayed in the first set, but fought tigerishly in the next two, only to subside at the end of them.

Murray becomes the first player in the post-1968 Open Era to lose five finals at the same Grand Slam since Ivan Lendl at the US Open – who eventually won it. The phenomenal Djokovic, claiming his third straight Slam, equals Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on eleven Major titles.

The 28 year-old Scot had been in the Rod Laver Arena at 1am earlier in the day to see his brother lift the men’s doubles title, and while it did not seem to do him much harm in the first game he was off colour for the four after that.

Murray forced a break point straightaway at the start, saved by a cross court backhand, and then fell 0-5 behind as his serve continually misfired and the Serb quickly went into his zone. 

Murray looks focused as he plays a shot during the opening exchanges and took a while to settle into the match

Murray looks focused as he plays a shot during the opening exchanges and took a while to settle into the match

Djokovic is poised and attempts to place the ball over the net as Murray waits in anticipation to return during the final encounter

Djokovic is poised and attempts to place the ball over the net as Murray waits in anticipation to return during the final encounter

Djokovic began the first set by claiming the first two points after serving off at the Rod Laver Arena and raced ahead to win the first set 6-1

Djokovic began the first set by claiming the first two points after serving off at the Rod Laver Arena and raced ahead to win the first set 6-1

Djokovic smiles as the Serb stormed to victory to claim his 11th Grand Slam title as the Australian Open continues to elude Murray

Djokovic smiles as the Serb stormed to victory to claim his 11th Grand Slam title as the Australian Open continues to elude Murray

Murray roars with delight and bangs his racked with his hand after a much-improved performance in the second set

Murray roars with delight and bangs his racked with his hand after a much-improved performance in the second set

GRAND SLAM MEN’S SINGLES TITLES

17 – Roger Federer 

14 – Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras 

12 – Roy Emerson 

11 – Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic 

The World No 2 was calm enough and started to revive a little before the ultra-competitive second set, in which he strained every sinew while his opponent seemed to be physically coasting.

He saved three break points in a 12-minute third game and then enjoyed his best period of the match. At 3-2 he should have put himself in a position to break but made four unforced errors and could not advance further than deuce. Unforced errors were creeping into the World No 1’s game and his forehand went awry but he held on.

The disappointment lingered for Murray and he was broken for 3-4 but then finally clinched a break point to level, but the underdog was expending so much energy just keeping up that it looked bound to take its toll.

The pivotal passage in the match was at the end of the set when Djokovic broke from being 40-0 down, including coming off best from an astonishing 36-shot rally. 

Murray emphasises his point with the ball in his hand as he strived desperately to get back into the match

Murray emphasises his point with the ball in his hand as he strived desperately to get back into the match

Murray's feet leave the ground as the 28-year-old powerfully serves at Djokovic during the second set on Sunday in Melbourne

Murray’s feet leave the ground as the 28-year-old powerfully serves at Djokovic during the second set on Sunday in Melbourne

Djokovic clenches his fist with a look of steely determination having clinched the second set after capitalising on mistakes by Murray

Djokovic clenches his fist with a look of steely determination having clinched the second set after capitalising on mistakes by Murray

Murray bends down to point and highlight a mark on the court as he attempted to salvage the final after going two sets down

Murray bends down to point and highlight a mark on the court as he attempted to salvage the final after going two sets down

Djokovic reacts with frustration after a rare missed chance during Sunday's Australian Open final  in which much went the Serb's way

Djokovic reacts with frustration after a rare missed chance during Sunday’s Australian Open final in which much went the Serb’s way

DJOKOVIC BY NUMBERS 

4 – The age when Djokovic first picked up a tennis racket

1 – Number of sets dropped when Djokovic won the 2008 Australian Open – his first-ever grand slam title

3 – Number of sets Djokovic dropped during his 2016 Australian Open triumph

22-9 – Djokovic’s win-loss ratio against Andy Murray

692-146 – Djokovic’s career win-loss ratio

61 – Career singles titles won to date, including 11 grand slams

Then, in a rare moment of the tension getting to him, he served two double faults but Murray dumped a backhand in the net on break point. Such is the Serb’s incredible court coverage that the margin of error was constantly needing to be narrowed to hit a winner. 

As Djokovic is 171-1 when leading by two sets to love that appeared to be the match gone and it was duly the case.  

Murray dropped serve in the opening game of the third and then could not convert a forehand that would have levelled it at 2-2. Unlike last year the world number two did not thrown in the towel and got back level through finally cracking his forehand in a way that ex-coach Lendl would have been proud of.

They tracked each other to a tiebreak, which Murray began with a double fault and Djokovic began with an ace. Another double fault made it 1-4, and he went down 7-3 to a final ace down the middle. There could be no arguing that the outcome was deserved.

Right now men’s tennis is looking like a battle for second place. 

A downcast-sounding Murray, whose father-in-law Nigel Sears was taken ill at the tournament eight days ago, paid an emotional tribute afterwards on the podium to his wife Kim: ‘She’s going to be watching back home just now. You’ve been a legend the last two weeks. Thanks for all your support and I’ll be on the next flight home.

‘I feel like I’ve been here before. I’d like to congratulate Novak. Six Australian Opens is an incredible feat and also for what he’s done the last year or so. It’s been incredible consistency.

‘I’d like to thank my team for getting me into this position and helping me prepare for this. It’s been a tough few weeks for me away from the court.’ 

Murray's coach Amelie Mauresmo cheers on the Scot as she watches on during the Australian Open final

Murray’s coach Amelie Mauresmo cheers on the Scot as she watches on during the Australian Open final

One Direction star Niall Horan was one of a number of famous faces in the crowd to watch the final on Sunday in Melbourne

One Direction star Niall Horan was one of a number of famous faces in the crowd to watch the final on Sunday in Melbourne

A Murray supporter holds up a Union Jack flag and sings during the Australian Open final between the Scot and Djokovic

A Murray supporter holds up a Union Jack flag and sings during the Australian Open final between the Scot and Djokovic

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