Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in four sets to become the first man to win three straight Australian Open tennis titles in the sport’s professional era.
Top-seeded Djokovic of Serbia beat the No. 3 seed from Britain 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to win his fourth championship at the season-opening Grand Slam tournament and sixth major overall, including five of the past nine.
Djokovic did not lose his serve in the match. After there were no service breaks in the first two sets, Djokovic had three breaks in the final two sets.
Djokovic, 25, is the first man to win the tournament three years in a row since Australia’s Roy Emerson made it five consecutive titles in 1967. Since the Open era began a year later, nine other players had won back-to-back championships before failing on the third attempt.
He follows Victoria Azarenka in successfully defending her title at Melbourne Park after the top-seeded Belarusian beat Li Na of China 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the women’s final yesterday.
Djokovic entered the championship match having had 24 hours longer to prepare following his 89-minute rout of fourth-seeded David Ferrer in the first semifinal. U.S. Open champion Murray, 25, who had been seeking to become the only man in the Open era to follow his first Grand Slam victory with another title in his next major, was taken to five sets by four-time champion Roger Federer two days ago.
Djokovic’s title defense almost ended in the fourth round, when he fought back to beat 15th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in a five-hour, two-minute match, winning the fifth set 12-10. It was the fourth-longest match in Australian Open history.
The longest was the men’s final 12 months ago, when Djokovic outlasted 11-time major champion Rafael Nadal of Spain over five sets and almost six hours. Nadal didn’t play this year because of illness and injury.
Djokovic broke through for his first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in 2008.