Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
It was a case of fifth time unlucky for Andy Murray as Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of not only just him, but also at Melbourne Park, to claim a record-equalling sixth title at the Australian Open.
Ahead of the first one-versus-two final at the Australian Open since Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in arguably the greatest final ever witnessed at Melbourne Park in 2012, all the expectation was that Djokovic and Murray would deliver another classic in their fourth championship duel Down Under.
Djokovic and Murray had, over the past fortnight, demonstrated why they are the world’s top two men despite both being tested at various stages on their way to their sixth meeting in a Grand Slam final.
But instead, Djokovic was not intent on wasting any time in his pursuit for history, winning the opening set with embarrassing ease in just thirty minutes, taking it 6-1.
The second set proved to be very close, however, and the Djoker would require only one break of serve to take the second set 7-5 after Murray had a couple of chances to break back and force a tiebreak.
By this stage, the world number one had one hand on a sixth trophy, and could smell the title when he broke early for a 2-0 lead in the third set.
But Murray, who had to deal with a lot especially over the last week after his father-in-law, Nigel Sears, collapsed during the match between Ana Ivanovic and Madison Keys last Saturday night, would soon after break back to keep the set on serve.
He then had his chances to take the third set, but Djokovic would hold firm to force a third-set tiebreak, where his hopes of a fifth title would then be put to the test.
Murray had the advantage of serving first in the tiebreak but committed a fatal error to fall behind 1-0 and thus put himself on the back foot for the remainder of the set. Djokovic then capitalised on this error to consolidate for 3-0, then surge to 6-1 where five championship points were on offer.
After Murray pegged back two points on his own serve, Djokovic then sent down an ace to seal the match in straight sets and further cement himself as the world’s best male tennis player on the planet.
His sixth title at Melbourne Park equals Roy Emerson’s record at the Australian Open, and his eleventh Grand Slam title also sees him level with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver on as many Major titles.
They now sit equal fifth only behind Roger Federer (1st with 17 Grand Slam titles), Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras (equal second with 14) and Roy Emerson (fourth, twelve) on the Grand Slam leaderboard.
By contrast, Andy Murray falls to a record fifth Australian Open final defeat and his seventh overall Grand Slam final defeat, meaning he now has a 2-9 record in Grand Slam finals, a percentage of less than 25%.
Nonetheless, he will remain in the world’s top three when the rankings are updated overnight and there’s no doubt that he will again challenge for more Grand Slam titles in the future. It was still a good start to the season for the Scot who entered the new year fresh off winning Great Britain their first Davis Cup title since 1936.
Djokovic’s victory also means Rafael Nadal suffers the rather unfortunate ignominy of winning the wooden spoon, having finished at the end of the tournament’s longest losing chain (Novak Djokovic > Andy Murray > Milos Raonic > Gael Monfils > Andrey Kuznetsov > Dudi Sela > Fernando Verdasco > Rafael Nadal).
The Spaniard joins the likes of Goran Ivanisevic, Marat Safin and Ana Ivanovic as Grand Slam champions who have suffered that fate; Nadal is just the second after Safin to win a wooden spoon and a title at the same Grand Slam tournament.
And so, that’s all she wrote at the Australian Open for 2016, and the countdown is now well and truly on to the French Open in May, where Novak Djokovic will attempt once again to complete his Grand Slam set, having been stopped in his tracks by Rafael Nadal (three times) and Stan Wawrinka (last year) since 2012.
For Australian sports fans, a relatively sports-free February will follow before the NRL and AFL seasons start, with the Formula One in between. Those in Melbourne particularly will also be counting down to the AFL season opener between Richmond and Carlton at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday, March 24.