World No. 1 Novak Djokovic made some history on Sunday when he beat Andy Murray to become the first man in the Open Era to capture three straight Australian Open titles.
Djokovic dropped a first-set tiebreak before mounting a comeback for a 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 victory over the third-seeded Murray in the men's final at Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic avenged a loss against Murray in September's U.S. Open final, as Murray was shooting for back-to-back Grand Slam titles.
Murray had been a perfect 10-0 this season.
The 25-year-old Djokovic also captured the Aussie Open title in 2008, which means four of his six career major titles have come Down Under. The super Serb has won five of the last nine Grand Slam titles overall, which included three of the four major championships in 2011.
In addition to his Aussie title last year, Djokovic was also the runner-up at the French and U.S. Opens in 2012.
After Djokovic and Murray split the first two sets via tiebreaks, Murray received some treatment for a blister on his right foot, just two days after beating four-time Aussie champion Roger Federer in a long five-set semifinal at Melbourne Park.
Following the treatment, a now-laboring Murray was not the same player who battled Djokovic in the first two sets.
There were no breaks of serve over the first 2 hours, 51 minutes of Sunday's final until Djokovic finally broke Murray for a 5-3 lead in the third set. The break propelled the Serb, who went on to take the set and then cruised in a less-than-dramatic fourth.
With Murray's movement decreasing as the match wore on, Djokovic picked up a pair of breaks in the fourth set and ultimately converted on his first match point when Murray netted one final two-handed backhand.
Murray never broke Djokovic on Day 14 of the fortnight.
Djokovic won 35-of-41 net points and struck 18 more winners (47-29) en route to the big victory.
"Winning it three [times] in a row, it's incredible," Djokovic said. "It's very thrilling. I'm full of joy right now. It's going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that's for sure."
Djokovic's fellow four-time Aussie champion Andre Agassi presented the trophies on Sunday.
"What a joy it is and incredible feeling winning this trophy once more," Djokovic said after accepting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. "It's a thrilling feeling to be part of this again."
Murray graciously accepted his runner-up hardware.
"There are very few people who have managed to do what he's done here," Murray said of Djokovic. "I'll see you guys next year."
The U.S. Open and Olympic champion Murray, who titled in Sydney three weeks ago, has been the Aussie Open runner-up in three of the last four years. The Scot lost to Djokovic here in 2011 and to Federer in the 2010 Oz finale.
Murray fell to 1-5 in his career major finals and has dropped nine-of-10 sets in his Aussie title matches.
"I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I'm going the right direction," Murray said. "I know that no one's ever won a Grand Slam, the immediate one after winning their first one. It's not the easiest thing to do and I got extremely close."
Djokovic improved to 11-7 lifetime versus his good friend and fellow 25-year-old Murray, including a 3-1 record at the Slams. The two men have been playing tennis against each other since they were 11 years old.
The Belgrade native Djokovic played in a Grand Slam final for the eighth time in the last 10 majors, dating back to the 2010 U.S. Open. The only two misses in that span were the 2011 French and last year at Wimbledon, when he lost in the semifinals at each event.
He's 6-3 in his career major finals.
Djokovic, playing in his first tournament of 2013, now owns 35 career titles on the ATP World Tour. He'll try to complete a career Grand Slam at the French Open later this year.
The 6-foot-2 Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in the longest-ever Grand Slam final here in Melbourne a year ago.
Djokovic pocketed $2.5 million for his latest title, while Murray settled for $1.265 million.