MELBOURNE: Andy Murray insisted he wasn’t far away from matching Novak Djokovic despite his fourth defeat to the runaway world number one in the Australian Open final.
Dad-to-be Murray paid the price for a slow start as he went down 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in a one-sided men’s final Sunday which only underlined the Serb’s supremacy.
But Murray, before making a dash to the airport to fly home to his pregnant wife, said he felt he remained in touch with Djokovic despite their widening head-to-head statistics.
“I don’t know how far off I was tonight. The first set, you know, I wasn’t there, but the second and third sets I do think were very close,” said the British world number two.
“I do think I could have played a bit better. I didn’t think I hit my forehand as well as I could have done. When I did in the third set, that helped me out a lot.
“I was able to get myself into the net more. I was able to play more offensive tennis then.
“I mean, most of the matches we played in Slams I think have been competitive. Whether that looks the same from the outside or not, I don’t know.”
Murray’s latest defeat to Djokovic made him only the second man in the Open era after Ivan Lendl, his former coach to lose five finals at the same Grand Slam tournament.
Murray lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 final, and he was also runner-up in 2011, 2013, 2015 and now 2016, watching Djokovic lift the winner’s trophy each time.
His head-to-head record with the Serb moves to 22-9 in Djokovic’s favour, including 11 of their last 12 matches and their last four Grand Slam meetings, going back to Murray’s Wimbledon win in 2013.
Murray and Djokovic, both 28, were born a week apart and have known each other since their junior days, and while they are both at the top of men’s tennis it is the Serb who has accelerated in front.
Djokovic has 11 Grand Slam titles to Murray’s two, 61 career trophies to 35 and $97 million in prize money compared to $44 million for the Scot.
However, it seemed to matter little to the Scot, whose first priority was catching the first plane out of Melbourne to be reunited with his wife, Kim Sears.
It has been a tough fortnight for Murray, who almost pulled out of the tournament when his father-in-law Nigel Sears, Ana Ivanovic’s coach, collapsed at Rod Laver Arena last week.
“I’m proud that I got into this position,” Murray said. “Just quite looking forward to getting home now.”