MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic hit passing shots and looping lobs with equal perfection to overwhelm Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday, winning his second Australian Open title and extending Britain's near 75-year drought in men's Grand Slam singles.
Djokovic's 2008 Australian title is his other Grand Slam victory. Murray has lost three Grand Slam finals, also falling to Roger Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open.
Djokovic overcame big obstacles en route to the final, including a win over Federer in the semifinals. And this came just two months after leading Serbia to its first Davis Cup title.
"We have known each other for such a long time," Djokovic said of Murray. "It was difficult tonight."
About an hour after his win, Djokovic went out on a balcony on the concourse at Rod Laver Arena and lifted his trophy as hundreds of supporters cheered below.
There wasn't much to celebrate in Murray's camp: he's still yet to win a set in a Grand Slam final.
Last year, the Scot cried after his loss to Federer. There were no visible tears this year, but the hurt may have been just as bad after he lost seven straight games through the end of the first set and into the second and never appeared to be in the match.
"I'll try to keep it together this year," Murray said, speaking confidently and talking about "having more chances in the future" as the crowd yelled out "Andy! Andy!"
The last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title was Fred Perry in the 1936 U.S. Open — more than 270 majors ago.
"It was better than it was last year," Murray said at his media conference. "I thought Novak played unbelievably well. It's tough, but you have to deal with it."
Murray said he tried to get himself back into the match, but Djokovic defended too well.
"You always have to try to find a way, to believe," Murray said. "When I got ahead in some games, even in just points, he was sticking up lobs that were landing on the baseline, passing shots that were on the line. I broke his serve twice in the third set and still lost 6-3."
The statistics underlined Djokovic's domination. He won 11 of his 14 service games, while Murray only won six of 13, and the Serb pounded Murray's second serve, with the Scot winning just 16 of 51 points (31 percent) on his second serve.
Murray and Djokovic, each 23 and born a week apart, are good friends and often practice together. At the coin flip before the match, Djokovic smiled broadly for photos while Murray looked fidgety and nervous.
After the match, the two hugged, then Djokovic threw his racket, his shirt and then shoes into the crowd. But there was no prolonged celebration so as to not offend his opponent.
"I understand how he feels, it's his third final and he didn't get the title," Djokovic said. "As I said on the court, I really have big respect for him and his game, because I think he has everything what it takes to become a Grand Slam champion."
The roof was closed at Rod Laver Arena for most of the day due to 100-degree temperatures, but was opened just before the match started and after the weather had cooled significantly.
Trailing 5-4, Murray double-faulted to lead off the 10th game of the first set. Then he hit a backhand into the net after a 39-hit point. Murray challenged the final point of the set when he thought his forehand stayed in on the backline, but Djokovic walked away with the set in 59 minutes.
"Maybe there was a turning point in the whole match, that 5-4 game," Djokovic said. "I was a bit fortunate, I kind of anticipated well and read his intentions and played some great shots and great moments. It is a big advantage mentally when you are a set up and you are getting to the second set and really going for the shots."
Djokovic held serve on four straight points to open the second set, then went up 2-0 when he again broke Murray's service, finishing off the point when Murray's attempted drop shot was returned cross-court for a winner. Murray had five unforced errors in the first two games.
The Serb went up 3-0, then continued his domination in the next game, breaking Murray in four straight points to go up 4-0 and held for 5-0, his seventh straight game win. Murray finally stopped the streak with an ace on game point to trail 5-1, then broke Djokovic in the next game to cut it to 5-2.
Murray appeared to be having problems with his eyes, blinking often and rubbing them on changeovers and often during points. That didn't help in the next game when he again dropped serve and lost the second set in 40 minutes, Djokovic establishing set point with a memorable crosscourt winner off a near-impossible shot from Murray.
The third set started with Murray's second break of Djokovic's service in the match, but Djokovic ensure that Murray's advantage was short-lived by breaking him in the next game. After an unforced error wide, Murray pounded his fist and yelled out in disgust.
Things didn't improve for Murray, who held off six break points before Djokovic prevailed on the seventh in the fourth game, hitting a backhand down the line to pass a stretching Murray. Djokovic pumped his fist and let out a loud yell in celebration.
That, too, was short-lived, when Murray broke back in the next game to pull to 3-2, then held through two break points to level the set at 3. Late in the match, Murray appeared to clutch his lower back after a low return on the baseline.
Djokovic soon broke serve again and then served it out to win in 2 hours, 39 minutes.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 5-3, ending a three-match streak for Murray.
Earlier Sunday, Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Daniel Nestor of Canada won the mixed double doubles championship, beating Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.