Andy Murray lost the third Australian Open final of his career as Novak Djokovic powered his way to the year's first Grand Slam.
The Serb defeated the Scot 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2 for the sixth major of his career and his third successive win in Melbourne.
Murray was the superior player in the opening two sets but his failure to capitalise on three break points when 1-0 up in the second proved to be a critical moment in the match. Djokovic soon discovered his rhythm and won the set's toe-break with ease to level the match.
Murray was hamstrung by a nasty blister
Murray said he hoped the final would be painful, and he really put his foot in it.
Between the second and third sets the world no.3 had treatment for a weeping blister, shown in graphic detail by the television cameras, much to the horror of the spectators inside the Rod Laver Arena. Murray lost a toe nail during his US Open final win against Djokovic, but the pain barrier proved to be insurmountable this time.
Djokovic recovered superbly after losing the first set
With his hamstring tightening as the match progressed, the 25-year-old US Open champion's endurance, so impressive against Roger Federer in Friday's semi-final, was vastly inferior to the evergreen Djokovic. The World no.1's ability to salvage points wore down his opponent, who wilted in the final two sets.
Djokovic occasionally served at a 0-30 deficit, but Murray could not capitalise and his opponent won the match without conceding a break point. Whereas Murray looked fresher during the duo's final at Flushing Meadows in September, this time he could not stay with his opponent.
He has now won six Slam titles, four of them at the Australian Open, while Murray faltered in his sixth major final.
Djokovic embraces his fourth Australian Open title
Djokovic's triumph sees him match the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Don Budge and Jack Crawford in the all-time list - with more likely to follow.
And unlike at Wimbledon, Murray wasn't close to tears as he hailed Djokovic's "incredible" record in Melbourne when he addressed the crowd after his loss.
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