Andy Murray suffered more Melbourne misery at the hands of Novak Djokovic on Sunday, losing the pair’s third Australian Open final with a late collapse.
After the first two sets were split in two hours and 32 minutes, Murray looked to be in command against an ailing Djokovic when he broke for a 2-0 lead in the third.
However, from then on the 27-year-old Scot won just one of the next 13 games as a rejuvenated Djokovic raised his game to secure a fifth Australian Open title and eighth grand slam crown with a rollercoaster 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 6-0 win in three hours and 39 minutes.
Murray, who also lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 final, said: “I would like to congratulate Novak on his fifth Australian Open, a fantastic, incredible record and thoroughly deserved, so well done.
“It’s probably my most consistent grand slam throughout my career, I’ve just not been able to win but the support I’ve had has been amazing.
“I’d also like to thank my team. We put in a lot of hard work to try and get back in this position after a difficult year last year and unfortunately could not quite do it tonight, but I am little bit closer than I was a few months ago I and I will keep working hard to get there.
“I will try and come back next year and hopefully have a slightly different outcome in the final.”
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.
Djokovic beat Murray in the final here in 2011 and 2013 and had won their last four matches, while Murray was looking to become the first man in the open era to win the title after losing three finals and had never beaten Djokovic after losing the first set.