Andy Murray’s disappointment at losing his fourth Australian Open final – and his third to Novak Djokovic – was obvious.
He had had the world No 1 on the ropes and then he fell for the oldest trick in the book: Djokovic played possum, Murray thought he was home and hosed and then the Serb came back to wrench the title from him 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0.
For almost three hours, Murray had fought harder than he had ever fought in a final. The battle with his oldest rival was brutal – both of them were playing to the very limit of their physical abilities, and in the third set, Murray was winning and Djokovic looked spent. He seemed to be cramping, he had no energy; Murray let his concentration waver for a couple of games and suddenly Djokovic was up and running like a whippet again. Murray had allowed himself to be conned.
“I have no idea what the issue with him was,” Murray said. “He obviously looked like he was in quite a bad way at the beginning of the third set and came back unbelievable at the end of that set. Then, obviously, the way he was hitting the ball in the fourth and moving was impressive. I have no idea if it was deliberate or not. I would hope that that wouldn’t be the case.
“I’m frustrated at myself for letting that bother me at the beginning of the third set, because I was playing well, I had good momentum, and then just dropped off for like ten minutes and it got away from me. So, that’s the most frustrating thing.
“I’ve played enough matches to be able to handle that situation better. I feel I could have done a bit better.”