ANDY MURRAY’S Australian Open dream was crushed today as Novak Djokovic won their final showdown in four sets.
The Serb triumphed 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 6-0 to claim his fifth title in Melbourne.
The defeat was Murray’s fourth in an Australian final and his third at the hands of Djokovic, having already lost to the world No.1 in 2011 and 2013.
Djokovic was twice a break up in the opening set and served for it at 5-3, only for Murray to battle back and force a tie-break.
The Scot led 4-2 before serving a crucial double fault and a forehand volley which sailed just beyond the baseline allowed Djokovic to convert his first set point as Murray netted a backhand return after 72 minutes.
Murray had the first chance to break in the third game after reaching 0-40 with a forehand winner down the line, but Djokovic dug himself out of trouble and promptly broke in the next game courtesy of some sumptuous winners.
Djokovic held comfortably to move into a 4-1 lead but Murray was not about to let the set go without a fight and broke back, only to then lose his own serve again immediately and fall 5-3 behind.
Before attempting to serve for the set, Djokovic indicated he needed medical attention at the change of ends after scraping his thumb on the court in an earlier point and Murray took advantage of the Serbian’s discomfort to make it three consecutive breaks.
Djokovic started the tie-break with a double fault but Murray repaid the favour at 4-2 and Djokovic gratefully took the opportunity to edge in front.
Djokovic was struggling with his footwork and appeared to have injured his ankle in the first game of the second set.
Murray took advantage to break for a 2-0 lead, only to immediately lose his serve as he dumped a forehand into the net.
From looking in real trouble Djokovic suddenly sprang to life and, after holding serve, broke Murray to love and held serve again to make it four games in a row.
A double fault from Murray then made it 13 points lost in a row but he held serve to trail 3-4 before play was disrupted by two protesters jumping onto the court and others unfurling a banner which read ‘australia open for refugees’.
The protesters were swiftly removed and security personnel surrounded the players, but the delay seemed to work in Murray’s favour as he came out and broke serve to get back on level terms.
Djokovic had to save a set point at 4-5 and Murray three break points in the next game but eventually another tie-break was required and Murray raced into a 5-2 lead before taking it 7-4.
That made it one set all after two hours and 32 minutes.
Djokovic looked exhausted at the start of the third set.
Murray took advantage to break in the opening game but soon squandered the advantage.
Djokovic had Murray screaming at himself again when he fell 0-40 down on serve and although the Scot saved the first break point, a double fault on the second gifted Djokovic a 5-3 lead.
Djokovic one had previously wasted such chances but made no mistake this time, serving out to take the set after 39 minutes and a two-sets-to-one lead.
The momentum was firmly with Djokovic and he broke serve in the opening game of the fourth set as Murray suddenly began to look seriously fatigued.
Djokovic sensed his chance and pounced on a weak Murray second serve to put away a backhand return winner for a second break and 3-0 lead.
A fifth title was now firmly in the Serbian’s hands – only Roy Emerson, with six, has won more – and a disheartened Murray lost his serve for the third time to trail 5-0.
And there was no way back for Murray as Djokovic served out to complete a rollercoaster win in three hours and 39 minutes.