Djokovic — undisputed king

HOGGING THE LIMELIGHT: If it is the Australian Open, it is inevitably Novak Djokovic. With five wins in as many finals, the Serb is just one short of Roy Emerson's record.   | Photo Credit: Lee Jin-man

Novak Djokovic may never win as many Wimbledon or U.S. Open titles as Roger Federer or as many French Open championships as Rafa Nadal but when it comes to the Australian Open the Serbian reigns supreme.

At Melbourne on Sunday, Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open crown, beating Andy Murray 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0 in an old fashioned slugfest where the pair went toe-to-toe like two prize fighters before the Serb knocked the Scotsman out.

The only man to win more Australian titles than Djokovic is Roy Emerson, who chalked up six in the 1960s when the Grand Slams were restricted to amateur players and the Australian Open was played on grass at different cities all over the country.

But in the professional era, Djokovic is the undisputed king down under, playing in five Australian Open finals and winning the lot.

“I am so privileged and honoured and grateful to be standing here as a champion for the fifth time and to be in the elite group of players with Sir Roy Emerson and Rod Laver and all the legends of our sport,” said the Serb.

“Tough luck tonight, Andy, you are a great competitor, you fight a lot and I want to congratulate your team and wish you all the best for the rest of the season,” he added.

The win means Djokovic stays at World no. 1 on the next ATP rankings when they are released on Monday, with Murray moving to four from his current sixth.

“We have put in a lot of hard work to try and get back in this position after what was a difficult year last year,” said Murray, referring to injuries that dogged his 2014 season.

Murray put Djokovic under immediate pressure with three break points in the third game of the opening set, played in cool and windy conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

But the Serb fought back to hold after an almighty 27-stroke rally and an ace.

Djokovic struck in the next game, breaking Murray to take an early 3-1 lead.

It was hard-fought tennis and the Scot worked his way back by breaking his rival on his third break point in the seventh game.

Djokovic jammed the thumb of his serving hand when he slipped chasing a low volley and needed treatment at the next changeover.

It seemed to bother him briefly only and he broke the Scot a second time before being broken back as he served for the opening set, taking it to a tiebreaker.

The top seed trailed 2-4 in the tiebreaker but then rattled off five of the next six points to claim the opening set in 72 minutes.

Undeterred, Murray broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set before Djokovic hit back with a double break as the Scot looked in trouble with Djokovic stringing together 13 straight points.

The final was then interrupted by a security scare for five minutes when political activists unfurled a banner in support of refugees.

One of them jumped on court with security guards ringing both players as at least four protestors were escorted out of the stadium.

The stoppage worked in Murray’s favour as he broke Djokovic’s service to level the set at 4-4.

The final went to a second tiebreak in which Murray prevailed 7-4 to level the hard-fought contest.

Djokovic suffered an immediate let-down, dropping his opening service in the third set, but he stormed back with a double break to edge in front two sets to one as Murray flagged.

Fired-up, the top seed then split the final set wide open, racing through the fourth set against a spent and frustrated Murray with a triple break to surge to victory.

Sunday’s win gave him his eighth career Grand Slam singles title, lifting him alongside Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Fred Perry.

Hingis, Paes win

Comeback queen Martina Hingis rolled back the years, clinching the mixed doubles crown with fellow veteran Leander Paes.

The seventh seeds were in their first major outing as a pairing and drew on all their experience to down the third seeds, France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Canadian Daniel Nester, 6-4, 6-3.

Hingis, the holder of five Grand Slam singles titles, now has 11 major doubles crowns — nine women’s and two mixed.

Paes, 41, has won eight men’s doubles and seven mixed doubles Grand Slams and said he planned to aim for more, with retirement not on his mind.

The results: Final: Men: 1-Novak Djokovic bt 6-Andy Murray 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0.

Mixed doubles: 7-Martina Hingis & Leander Pars bt 3-Kristina Mladenovic and Canadian Daniel Nester, 6-4, 6-3.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 12:44:21 AM |

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