Djokovic captures Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was still walking around Melbourne Park with his trophy, celebrating his record sixth Australian title, when five-time runner-up Andy Murray was heading for the airport in a rush to reunite with his pregnant wife.
Top-ranked Djokovic maintained his perfect streak in six Australian Open finals with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory on Sunday night, equaling Roy Emerson's record for Australian titles. Murray continued his unwanted streak, too, slumping to 0-5 in championship deciders Down Under.
"I never experienced this much crowd and this much love. I've had the fortune to win this trophy now for six times, but I never experienced such support," said Djokovic, acknowledging the hundreds of Serbians who chanted, sang and waved their red, white and blue flags as he conducted post-match interviews. "I don't take anything for granted, even though I won last four out of five Grand Slams, played five finals. It's phenomenal."
Djokovic reflected on a life-changing span of his life in which he was married, became a father and dominated tennis — the only match he has lost in the last five majors was the final of the French Open, which remains the only Grand Slam title missing from his collection of 11. After equaling Roy Emerson's record for mostAustralian titles, his next objective is a first triumph in Paris.
"No doubt that I'm playing the best tennis of my life in the last 15 months," he said. "Everything is going well privately, as well, so I feel like I'm at the point in my life where everything is working in harmony. I'll try to keep it that way."
After getting on his hands and knees and kissing the court at Rod Laver Arena, and going to the stands to hug Boris Becker, his coach since 2014, Djokovic paid tribute to Murray in his post-match speech.
"You're a great champion, great friend, a great person who is very professional and committed to this sport," he said. "So I'm sure in the future you'll have more opportunities to fight for this trophy."
As a father himself, he didn't want to delay Murray's departure.
The 28-year-old Scotsman had his share of distractions in Australia. His wife, Kim, is due to have their first child in February and remained in in Britain. Kim's father, Nigel Sears, traveled to Australia as coach for Ana Ivanovic, but became ill and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital by ambulance while Murray was on court in his third-round match. After a night in hospital, Nigel Sears was well enough to return home, which meant Murray could stay in Australia and try to refocus on winning the title.
"It's been a tough few weeks for me away from the court," Murray said, before turning his attention to his wife.
"You've been a legend the last two weeks. Thank you so much for all your support," he said, choking back tears and waving as he walked away from the microphone following his post-match speech. "I'll be on the next flight home."
A little more than a half-hour later, at 11:15 p.m. local time, Murray said he was aiming for a 1 a.m. flight.
"I've been held on flights for it feels like five days," he said. "The first one out of here, I'm leaving.
"It's been hard, regardless of today's result. I'm proud I got into this position — just quite looking forward to get home now."
While Djokovic joined Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg at No. 5 on the all-time list for most majors, Murray became only the second man to lose five finals at one major — Ivan Lendl lost five and won three U.S. Open finals in the 1980s.
Djokovic had won 10 of his previous 11 matches against Murray and was 21-9 in their career meetings — including four finals at the Australian Open.
Again, he was just too good.
Djokovic broke Murray twice in a 30-minute opening set, and twice again in the second and once in the third, and only had his serve broken twice.
Djokovic took a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker, setting up five championship points, and finished if off in 2 hours, 53 minutes, with an ace on his third match point.
While he extended his perfect streak to six in Australian finals, Serena Williams' streak of 6-0 in Melbourne Park deciders ended in an upset loss to Angelique Kerber on Saturday night. Kerber went for a dip in the Yarra River on Sunday morning after a night of celebrations.