Novak Djokovic crushed Andy Murray in the final stages to claim the Australian Open men’s singles title 7-6 6-7 6-3 6-0.
Murray had seemed on the front foot as he won the second set to level the match, then broke early in the third set to lead 2-0.
But Djokovic then won 12 of the next 13 games to enjoy an extraordinary victory – and consign Murray to a fourth defeat in the final in Melbourne.
The Serbian superstar, by contrast, has a perfect five-out-of-five record in Australian Open finals – and fully justified his world number one status as he roared away with the match.
Djokovic got tongues wagging at the key moment of the match as he appeared injured at the start of the third set, hobbling slightly between points.
But as so often in the past Djokovic’s mystery injury disappeared as quickly as it had appeared – prompting Murray to shout out “he ALWAYS does it” – and as he produced a string of brilliant winners, Murray’s touch deserted him completely.
The cursory handshake between the two men at the end between two players who used to be firm friends said it all – Murray was clearly unimpressed at how the world number one’s antics had unsettled him at a critical moment.
But the Scot can have few complaints: he allowed his opponent to get under his skin, and after playing an exemplary tournament finally lost his head when it mattered most. In this most gladiatorial of sports, Murray was ultimately beaten by a player who proved himself both physically and mentally superior.