Novak Djokovic proved once again that he is the world's best tennis player by quite a considerable distance after recovering from adversity against Andy Murray to win a record fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne.
The world no.1 picked up his eighth Grand Slam title in four sets 7-6 6-7 6-3 6-0, taking just under four hours to dispatch of his British opponent who lost his way as the match went on.
After coming through a gruelling five-set semi-final with Stan Wawrinka on Friday, Djokovic was forced to endure a tough few opening sets which went to tie-breakers and both lasted over an hour – it seemed to be taking it's toll on the Serb.
In the third set, Murray found himself a break to the good and looked to have a clear course to go-on and end his run of three final defeats in Melbourne as Djokovic began limping and seemed distressed with injury woes.
However, the 27-year suddenly perked up and found another level to his game as he fought back in the third set and then blitzed Murray in the fourth 6-0 to seal the deal.
Following the match, Murray seemed to suggest that Djokovic's apparent cramping issues weren't all that they had seemed as he questioned how quickly the Serb had recovered to be covering all areas of the court and playing at his usual high tempo.
However, Djokovic refused to get caught up in any suggestions of feigning injury – instead stating that he came through a physical crisis which had seem him tire in the earlier stages of the match.
"You can't always be 100%, so you go through moments you can call crises during matches like these," he said in the post match press conference.
"I wasn't cramping. I didn't call a timeout because I had no reason to call it. I was just weak. I went through the physical crisis in the matter of 20 minutes.”
Djokovic has now beaten Murray in eight of their last nine encounters, a run which includes a similar defeat in the final of the Australian Open in 2013 – another final in which the world no.1 felt he had an edge over his opponent, and those memories came back to help him this time too: "That was in the back of my mind. That was something that kept me going.
"Even though I went through this moment, I believed that I'm going to get that necessary strength. I'm going to have to earn it, and that's what I did.
"I started hitting the ball more, covering the court better, shortening the points, and allowed myself to come back to the match."
Murray has received criticism in the wake of this defeat for his on-court attitude whilst believing that Djokovic was attempting mind games, and the latter has admitted that his superior levels of concentration were perhaps a factor.
"In these particular matches and circumstances, mental strength probably plays the most important role," he continued.
"It's not always possible to be 100% concentrated for three-and-a-half hours, but it's important to keep going because you fall many times, but mental strength allows you to keep going."
When the dust settles, Djokovic will be able to enjoy the fact that he has now won eight Grannd Slam titles and is closing-in on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time records list.
The next tournament on the list will be the French Open. It remains the only major that he has failed to win because of Nadal's dominance. His rival has a title of the 'King of Clay', but Djokovic will be confident of finally ending the drought.
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