Perhaps Andy Murray was knocked over with a feather. Murray will look back on his four-set defeat by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open men’s singles final and wonder what he did wrong.
The three hour, 40 minute match was light on memorable points and heavy on outside influences – most of which seemed to work against Murray.
Blisters on his feet.
Fatigue on his body after a four-hour semi-final to get there.
Crowd noise on his serve.
A cruel net cord against him deep in the fourth set as he was in position to break back on Djokovic’s serve.
But the strangest was a feather that fell from the sky during the second set tiebreak just after Murray had served a fault.
Murray brushed it away, then served a double-fault, giving Djokovic a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak and the opportunity to level the match at one set all.
Murray refused to blame the incident for his defeat, but he had been the better player for most of the set.
And in a match in which it took two hours and 51 minutes for the first break of serve to happen, random acts of strangeness took on greater weight than they would normally.
“I could have served, but it caught my eye, so I thought it was a good idea to move it,” Murray said of the feather.
“Maybe it wasn’t a good idea, because I double-faulted.
“At this level, it comes down to only a few points here and there.
“The first two sets, I had more of the chances and games on his serve.”
Murray had the weight of history against him going into the match.
No men’s player in the Open era has won their first two Grand Slam titles back-to-back.
But his US Open triumph last year to break his Grand Slam drought at least gives him something to cling to as he deals with his fifth defeat from six appearances in a major final.
“I have to look at the positives of the past few months and know I’m going in the right direction.”