Murray broken too easily in his most dispiriting final defeat

Briton fails to do his talent justice allowing dominant Djokovic to brush him aside

There were no tears this time, but when Andy Murray looks back on his third successive straight-sets defeat in a Grand Slam final his regrets are likely to be deeper than on either of his two previous attempts to land one of the four great prizes in his sport.

Twelve months after he cried at the presentation ceremony following his defeat to Roger Federer in the final of the Australian Open, the 23-year-old Scot had a look only of resignation on his face following his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 defeat here yesterday to Novak Djokovic. "I'll try to keep it together this year," he said after accepting his trophy as runner-up before going on to give a measured speech in which he thanked all and sundry for their support.

Afterwards Murray could not explain why he did not feel as upset as he had last year. Maybe it was because he never did himself justice this time and rarely looked capable of beating his boyhood friend, who has been the outstanding player of this tournament. Twelve months ago, having gone into the final expecting to win against the greatest player of all time, Murray performed well but not well enough. When you have not even come close to achieving your goal, perhaps the pain of failure is easier to bear, in the short term at least.

While Djokovic played superbly, combining stonewall defence with exhilarating attack and consistent ball-striking, Murray never looked at his best. Attempting to avoid being drawn into the baseline-slugging points that Federer kept losing in his semi-final against Djokovic was a sensible tactic, but Murray made too many mistakes, served poorly and did not come out of his shell often enough to hit the winners he needed if he was to end Britain's 75-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion.

It was not the heaviest of his three Grand Slam final defeats, but it was the most dispiriting. When Murray lost to Federer in New York three years ago, going down in an hour and 51 minutes after winning only nine games, there were a number of factors counting against him. It was his first appearance in a major final and cruel scheduling meant that he had little time to prepare for the biggest match of his career.

When he lost to Federer in two hours and 41 minutes last year, winning 13 games, he could still take pride in his performance, having forced the Swiss to dig deep: if Murray had taken one of his five set points at the end of the third set the outcome could have been very different.

This time Murray won only nine games and lost the match in two hours and 39 minutes. If the length of the contest indicated that it was closer than the score suggested, that would be misleading. From the moment Murray lost a first set in which both players made a cautious start, he never looked like turning the contest around.

At this level the serve can be the most crucial weapon in a player's armoury. While Murray failed to put enough first serves in court – 53 per cent to Djokovic's 67 per cent – it was his second serve that let him down more. Murray won just 31 per cent of the points on his second serve, while Djokovic won 60 per cent of his. The Serb attacked the Briton's second serve with relish, breaking him seven times in the match. On two of the three occasions when Djokovic dropped his own serve, he broke back immediately.

There have been times since Djokovic won his only previous Grand Slam title here three years ago when it seemed that his career had reached a plateau, but the world No 3 has had an outstanding last five months. He took part in one of the matches of the year to beat Federer at the US Open before losing to Rafael Nadal, led Serbia to their first Davis Cup triumph and has now reclaimed the crown here.

Whatever the expectations had been back in Britain, Djokovic was the clear favourite to win here, especially after his awesome dismissal of Federer. He played superbly again, attacking when he had the opportunity and defending stoutly whenever Murray went on the attack. On several occasions the Scot drove big ground strokes into the corners, only for Djokovic to defend with beautifully judged lobs that landed on, or just inside, the baseline.

Any fears that Djokovic might have had about the intense heat were dispelled when the roof over Rod Laver Arena was closed during the day and the air-conditioning turned on. The roof reopened just before the start and the conditions on a gloriously warm evening with barely a whiff of breeze were perfect. Support for the two players was evenly divided, even if Djokovic's raucous supporters in the seats behind his entourage – which again included his fellow Serb Ana Ivanovic – made more noise.

The match turned with two points in the last game of the first set, in which there had been only one break point, saved by Murray in the second game. When the Scot served at 4-5 and 15-15 he was drawn into two lengthy baseline rallies in which Djokovic upped the ante with bigger and bigger shots. The second, which created set point, featured 38 strokes and ended with Murray putting a forehand in the net. A forehand struck long on the next point gave Djokovic the set after 59 minutes.

The Serb ran away with the second set, establishing a 5-0 lead as Murray's game fell apart. The Scot tried to up the tempo, going for his shots and moving forward, and momentarily held his ground. Both players broke serve twice at the start of the third set, but at 3-4 Murray was broken for the last time as Djokovic won another lengthy rally.

After serving out for the match Djokovic's celebrations were muted, in respect, perhaps, for his friend on the other side of the net. Following a warm embrace with his opponent, Djokovic gave notice that the party was about to begin by hurling his shirt, shoes and two rackets into the crowd. Murray, meanwhile, sat silently and forlornly in his chair. A tennis court can be a lonely place when you have just lost a Grand Slam final.

James Lawton, page 4

How Murray missed his shot at glory Down Under

* Novak Djokovic holds to love in the opening game of 2011's first Grand Slam final. 1-0

* Andy Murray saves a break point with a service winner in a marathon second game lasting 14 minutes. 1-1

* Murray flirts with threatening the Djokovic serve, wasting a good opportunity to get to 15-40 when he misjudges a fairly straightforward smash winner. Djokovic battles his way back into the game to hold serve again. 2-1

* Murray holds with an ace after an impressive backhand as both players look evenly-matched. 2-2

* After lazily netting, Djokovic recovers to hold to 15. Murray looks less able to contend with the power of the Serb's service game. 3-2

* Murray's serve is just about good enough to keep him in contention in the crucial opening set, as Djokovic hits one narrowly wide. 4-4

* Another serene Djokovic service game is concluded with an impressive forehand. All nine games had gone with serve, leaving Murray having to serve to stay in the opening set. 5-4

* A nervy Murray starts with a double fault, which had been on the cards after a poor first service percentage. Djokovic's power manages to carve him out two set points as he forces an advantage in another lengthy rally. Murray overhits, is broken, and so loses the first set. 6-4

* Djokovic maintains his momentum with a comprehensive hold of serve at the start of the second set. 6-4, 1-0

* Murray is broken for the second consecutive game. The Briton overhits to gift break point, which he saves, and then believes he has saved a second break point but Hawkeye proves otherwise. Djokovic finally breaks through with a cross-court backhand winner. 6-4, 2-0

After a Djokovic hold, Murray is broken for the third consecutive occasion, and this time to love. A routine backhand sails long beyond the baseline and the Scot appears lost. 6-4, 4-0

* Two aces help Djokovic to clinch his seventh consecutive game, as Murray struggles to cope with his opponent upping the pace. 6-4, 5-0

* Murray saves a set point with a service winner and holds serve again with an ace. 6-4, 5-1

* A surprise burst sees Murray storm to 0-40, and he goes on to break Djokovic to love. It is his first break of the game, although it may not be enough. 6-4, 5-2

* Murray has a point to bring the score back to 5-3 but brilliant rallying from the back of the court enables Djokovic to break yet again and take the set. 6-4, 6-2

* Murray starts the third set with a fiery break, bringing his entourage to their feet, but the momentum he seeks to generate is punctured as he is instantly broken back by the irrepressible Djokovic. 6-4, 6-2, 1-1

* Djokovic restores order with another comfortable hold to 15. 6-4, 6-2, 2-1

* Again, Murray's serve proves insufficiently secure to win him a foothold in the match. A marathon service game from the Scot is eventually taken by Djokovic, converting his seventh break point with an excellent backhand winner. 6-4, 6-2, 3-1

* However, Murray immediately breaks back again as Djokovic nets an attempted drop shot just as victory seemed close. 6-4, 6-2, 3-2

* Murray holds off two more Djokovic break points. 6-4, 6-2, 3-3

* Murray puts a forehand in the net and is broken for the final time. 6-4, 6-2, 5-3

* Murray battles to 30-30 but puts two forehands in the net to give Djokovic a deserved victory. 6-4, 6-2, 6-3

The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links