ANDY Murray fans were left disappointed after the Scottish tennis star was beaten in the Australian Open final by world number one Novak Djokovic.
Despite describing the championship as his “most consistent Grand Slam” yet, Murray was beaten in four sets of brutal tennis yesterday.
Fans across the country anxiously watched the final in Melbourne and crowds gathered at venues in Dunblane, Murray’s home town.
But it was dejected faces all round when the British No 1 lost to the Serb by three sets to one.
After receiving his runners-up plate, Murray said: “I would like to congratulate Novak on his fifth Australian Open today – a fantastic, incredible record and he thoroughly deserves it – well done.”
His voice quavering a little, he added: “I would also like to thank everyone who came out the whole fortnight. I had amazing support again here and it’s been probably my most consistent Grand Slam throughout my career, and I just haven’t been able to win.
“But the support I have here over my career has been amazing, so thanks for that.”
Despite defeat, his performance earned Murray plaudits from many, including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tweeted: “Commiserations Andy Murray, but very well done on a great tournament. You are an absolute credit to sport and to Scotland.”
Young tennis players and older fans came together at Dunblane Sports Club yesterday where Murray honed his skills.
But while supporters were clearly disappointed with the result, there was still a sense of pride in Murray’s achievements.
Fiona Bennie, 51, tennis coach and Dunblane Sports Club board member, said: “He started off really well but just in the last two sets it just got away from him. Djokovic played very well. It’s no disgrace to be in a final.
“He came into the game thinking he was the underdog. He got a set – but 12 months ago he was nearly out of the top ten.
“He will be disappointed in himself. He will be very disappointed, especially with the score in the last set.”
Bridget Clark, 64, from Dunblane, said: “It’s nice to come down and support him. I was watching at home enjoying it then I thought I must come down to the sports club because I used to play here.
“I thought Andy played well in patches, but just a bit disappointing he didn’t take his chances early on.
“I felt he had a chance. It’s too easy to criticise and he has done incredibly well. He’s absolutely done the town proud no matter what. We’re very proud.”
Murray also garnered praise from Scotland Labour leader Jim Murphy, who tweeted: “What a brave performance by Andy Murray. Really proud of him. Despite today’s result he’s a real winner.”
And 2013 Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli congratulated the Scot, saying: “Well done Andy Murray for this great final!! So happy to see you where you belong.”
During the match Kim Sears responded to the outcry that followed her swearing outburst during her fiancée’s semi-final victory over Czech Tomas Berdych.
Much was written about Ms Sears’s verbal volley and she appeared to have the last laugh on the matter, appearing yesterday in a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content”, which is more usually seen on CD covers alerting parents to music that contains swear words.
Murray was quick to defend Sears following her semi-final swearing, saying the pressure of the occasion caused her outburst.
While Murray may well have lost the Australian Open final, William Hill bookmakers expect him to bounce back and already has odds of 4/1 for him to win Wimbledon this summer.
“Murray showed signs of being back to his best and he is certain to be a contender at the rest of the Slams later this year,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.