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Jubilant Djokovic lands second Slam

MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic gave old friend Andy Murray a sympathetic hug and a few consoling words, then he got on with the celebration.

Djokovic walked to midcourt, tossed his racket into the crowd, then stripped off his shirt and shoes and threw them, too.

The Serb, 23, had plenty to celebrate after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday. Djokovic's second Australian title (2008) made him only the fourth active player on the men's tour to win multiple majors. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have won 21 of the previous 23, while Lleyton Hewitt has two titles — the last coming at Wimbledon in 2002.

"It's been a fantastic tournament for me," said Djokovic, the No. 3 seed. "I don't want to fly up to the sky and say, 'I am the best,' or whatever. I cannot compare to Rafa and Roger's success."

He's the most successful player so far in 2011, though, and that's what counts.

"Certainly this will give me a lot of motivation for the continuation of the season, because to win a Grand Slam at the start of the season is the best start you can ask for," he said. "It means a world to me."

Top-ranked Nadal came to Australia aiming to win a fourth consecutive major, but he lost in the quarterfinals. Federer, the defending champion, lost to Djokovic in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the loss for fifth-seeded Murray, 23, continued his horrible stretch in Grand Slam finals. The Scotsman hasn't won a set in three tries, including losses to Federer last year in Australia and at the 2009 U.S. Open. And it extended the drought for British men at the majors that dates to Fred Perry's titles in 1936.

Djokovic and Murray have been friends since they started playing each other at age 11 or 12 and often practice against each other.

"I understand how he feels. It's his third final, and he didn't get the title," Djokovic said. "As I said on court, I really have big respect for him and his game, because I think he has everything that it takes to become a Grand Slam champion."

In the first set, Djokovic won a 38-hit rally in the 10th game with a backhand that forced an error to set up set point on Murray's serve.

The first set had gone with serve until then, and Djokovic stepped up his intensity. That was the second in a seven-game winning sequence for him.

Murray started to lose focus as the service breaks tallied against him. He held his back and seemed to limp around, swearing under his breath as his unforced errors mounted and yelling at the people in his players box to keep quiet.

But Murray said he didn't have any ailments that caused him problems in the match and conceded Djokovic was too good.

"I would have liked to have played better. But, you know, I think he would have beaten every other player on the tour if he played like that (Sunday)," Murray said. "He served well. He didn't make many mistakes from the back of the court. He moved really, really well. He hit the ball very clean. That was it."

Murray was in a better state of mind after Sunday's loss than he had been last year, when he was outplayed by Federer.

"I look at the tournament as a whole, it was excellent," he said. "I don't think anyone would say that reaching a Slam final is a bad achievement."

As for Djokovic, he's on a roll.

He planned a night of celebrations, something he did after helping Serbia win its first Davis Cup title in December. Since then, he has knuckled down to work.

"Celebrations are part of the success. I think Davis Cup gave me a strong win in the bag, gave me a lot of confidence, and I was really eager to come back to the court and compete," he said. "I have been more focused and dedicated to the sport than I have ever been before."

Rankings: Australian Open women's champion Kim Clijsters will move up one spot to No. 2 today, and Caroline Wozniacki will remain No. 1 despite losing in the semifinals. Rafael Nadal, who lost in the quarterfinals, will retain the men's No. 1 spot.

Men's championship

Match stats

Novak Djokovic (3) d.

Andy Murray (5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-3

Djokovic Murray

67 First serve pct. 53

6Aces 6

0 Double faults 4

33 Unforced errors 47

70 1st serve win pct. 64

60 2nd serve win pct. 31

26 Winners 21

7-18 Break points 3-4

9-14 Net points 7-18

106 Total points won 78

Time of match: 2:39


British drought

How British men have fared in Grand Slam finals since Fred Perry won the 1936 U.S. Championships:

1937 French Championships: Bunny Austin lost to Henner Henkel, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3

1938 Wimbledon: Austin lost to Don Budge, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3

1977 Australian Open: John Lloyd lost to Vitas Gerulaitis, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 3-6, 6-2

1997 U.S. Open: Greg Rusedski lost to Patrick Rafter, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

2008 U.S. Open: Andy Murray lost to Roger Federer, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2

2010 Australian Open: Murray lost to Federer, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11)

2011 Australian Open: Murray lost to Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3

Jubilant Djokovic lands second Slam 01/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 12:22am]
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