Serbian shockwave through the empire
Novak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday with a dominant display which thwarted Andy Murray's bid to become Britain's first male major-winner in 75 years.
The Serbian world number three controlled the final on a warm Melbourne evening, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 for his second Australian title, after also triumphing in 2008.
It was the first major final without Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer for three years, as Djokovic proved superior to the listless fifth seed and afterwards stripped down to his shorts in celebration. But the disappointing Murray suffered further heartbreak and is now yet to win a set in three Grand Slam finals.
Murray was bidding to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936, and the first from the country to win the Australian Open since 1934.
But he was never in the hunt as his game fell away in the second set and Djokovic ramped up the pressure to take the final in straight sets in 2hr 39 min.
It was Djokovic's second successive Grand Slam final after losing to Nadal in last year's US Open decider.
Symbolically, the last time Djokovic finished runner-up at the 2007 US Open, he went on to win the title at the Australian Open the following year against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Djokovic and Murray are close friends from their junior playing days and it was their first meeting at a Grand Slam with the Serb now leading 5-3 in their matches.
Despite the triumph Djokovic remains the world No. 3 behind Nadal and Federer when the new ATP rankings are published on Monday.
It was another bitter experience for Murray in the majors after going down in straight sets to Federer in last year's Australian final and at the 2007 US Open. In 2010, Murray choked back tears as he apologised to British fans after he was unable to serve out the third set while leading Federer 5-3, and then squandered five set points in an agonising tie-break to bomb out in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13/11).
Murray's opening service game on Sunday went for 14 minutes and four deuces before holding as both players held their serve until the 10th game.
The Scot coughed up a double-fault on his opening serve and a netted forehand gave Djokovic two set points to take the opening set in just under an hour. But Djokovic went on a seven-game run to have the second set in his pocket at 5-0.