- Associated Press - Sunday, January 30, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic hit passing shots and looping lobs with equal perfection to overwhelm Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 on 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, “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.

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