Roger Federer inflicted a straight sets defeat on Andy Murray in the final of the Australian Open tonight to deny the Scot a maiden grand slam title.
The 28-year-old Swiss won his 16th grand slam title and fourth at Melbourne Park 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13/11) in two hours and 41 minutes under the Rod Laver Arena lights.
Murray was made to play for an anxious start as he allowed the world number one to coast through the opening two sets before finally providing stubborn resistance in the third.
But after grabbing the first break in the third set Murray immediately relinquished his advantage and after an enthralling tie-break, when the Scot wasted five set points, his challenge was ended.
The 22-year-old Murray had entered the match in arguably the best form of his career after dropping just one set and eliminating defending champion Rafael Nadal en route to the final.
He had been able to mix aggression with endeavour to coast through those matches, but he simply lacked the class of the world number one whose performance offered little reason to hope Murray could end Britain's 74-year wait for a male champion while he remains at his peak.
Murray showed some early nerves with a double fault in his opening game as he was easily broken.
The fifth seed responded immediately to break back as he pushed a running backhand past an advancing Federer before following it with a forehand passing shot.
The muggy conditions, following afternoon showers in Melbourne, were slowing up the speed of the balls and both players were content to play long rallies.
That did not help Murray's counterpunching style and he was broken in the eighth game when Federer hammered a forehand winner before holding serve to clinch the opener.
Federer started to take control of the match and he broke Murray to love in the third game.
The world number one cracked a forehand cross-court winner to assert his authority and Murray was left with his head bowed.
The pressure was showing on the Scot who missed a couple of routine groundstrokes and he was being run around the court as Federer dictated the play with some perfectly angled shots before sewing up the second set.
Murray finally began to show the form that had catapulted him into the final as he took a lead for the first time when he broke Federer in the sixth game of the third set.
He converted with his third break-point chance when after twice failing to pass Federer, he angled a forehand across court.
It brought a subdued crowd to life as they sensed a revival in the Scot's challenge as the ripped forehand winner from Murray drew a roar of celebration from him.
Murray's comeback was, however, immediately deflated as he was broken in the next game with a timid volley allowing Federer to take the set to a tie-break.
An enthralling decider, which lasted 18 minutes, saw Murray pass up five set points before Federer won the match with his third championship point when the Scot blasted a backhand into the net.
An emotional Andy Murray later apologised to the expectant British public after falling short in his bid to end a 74-year wait for grand slam glory.
"Sorry I couldn't do it for you tonight," the 22-year-old said at the official match presentation.
"I can cry like Roger, it's just a shame I can't play like him."
Murray added: "I'd like to congratulate Roger.
"His achievements in tennis are incredible and to keep doing it year after year is pretty special.
"He was a lot better than me tonight.
"I'd like to thank all you guys, the support I got the whole tournament was great, loved every minute of it and hopefully one year I can come back and win here."