Djokovic pounces to claim Melbourne three-peat

Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:11am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic came up with his best tennis when it mattered most to reassert his grand slam dominance over Andy Murray on Sunday and become the first man to win three successive Australian Open titles in the professional era.

The Serbian world number one played 171 minutes of cat and mouse with his British rival before pouncing when the U.S. Open champion blinked and racing away to a 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

There was no ripping off of the shirt and no victory roar like Rod Laver Arena witnessed last year, but there was no disguising Djokovic's delight at claiming a fourth title at Melbourne Park.

His three successive titles were a first since Roy Emerson won his fifth straight in 1967, while a quartet of crowns matches Roger Federer and Andre Agassi, the latter being on hand to present him with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

"What a joy, it's an incredible feeling to win this trophy again. This is definitely my favorite grand slam. I love this tournament. I love this court," said Djokovic, who lost to Murray at Flushing Meadows in September.

"Every tournament, especially the major tournaments, is very special (but) winning it three in a row, it's incredible."

The similarity of playing style meant the match, although studded with some brilliant rallies, was not the classic that fans have come to expect from grand slam finals in the golden age of men's tennis.

So little separated the two 25-year-old baseliners, however, that two hours and 51 minutes of the contest had passed before the first break of serve.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia kisses the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Andy Murray of Britain in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 27, 2013. Djokovic became the first man to win three successive Australian Open titles in the professional era. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj