Roger Federer beats Andy Murray to win Australian Open
Federer has now won two more Slams than nearest challenger Pete Sampras
By Piers Newbery
Roger Federer beat Andy Murray in three sets at the Australian Open to win his 16th Grand Slam title and end the Briton's hopes of a first major crown.
The Swiss star, 28, won 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11) at Melbourne Park to extend his lead at the head of the all-time Grand Slam winners' list.
And Murray's defeat means that the 74-year-wait for a British male Grand Slam singles champion goes on.
Fred Perry was the last British man to win a major at the 1936 US Open.
Murray, 22, still looks likely to end that dismal run at some stage in his career but he will hope to avoid facing Federer if and when he makes another Grand Slam final.
The Scot had said before Sunday's match that he would need to play at his very best to win, and while he fell some way below that level it was in large part due to his opponent.
Murray 'gutted' after Federer defeat
Federer showed again why he has built an increasingly unarguable case to be the greatest player of all time, his flowing style and vast array of attacking options proving too much for Murray.
Both men went into the final with reason to be positive - Federer having beaten Murray easily in the Scot's first Grand Slam final at the 2008 US Open; Murray with the knowledge that he had won six of 10 meetings with Federer.
It may have only been Murray's second Grand Slam final, compared to Federer's 22nd, but the Briton did not look too nervous when he opened the match with a sweetly-struck backhand winner before Federer came through a tight first game.
With Murray seemingly happy to just keep the ball in play in the early moments, Federer then stepped in with aggressive winners off the backhand and forehand sides to break for 2-0.
But Murray has made a habit of immediately recovering breaks during the fortnight in Melbourne and he did so once again.
A careful Federer volley gave Murray a half-chance and he pounced, firing a backhand down the line from well out of court to earn two break points and converting the first with an equally brilliant forehand pass down the opposite flank.
Murray began to gain the edge in some lengthy baseline rallies, constantly changing pace, moving Federer around and tempting him to try for winners, but the Swiss managed to fend off three more break points in game five with some solid serving.
In a closely-fought set it was the shot-making brilliance of Federer that proved decisive when he played a magnificent backhand winner down the line and followed up with an unstoppable forehand to break again for 5-3, before serving out the set with ease.
Murray was serving at 45% and so could not win enough cheap points, allowing Federer to take control with his returns, and the Swiss broke again at the start of the second set - this time to love - after hitting one ferocious cross-court forehand winner.
Federer gives credit to Murray
The three-time champion was now in top form and there was little Murray could do as the winners began to flow past him, but the Scot did well to avoid falling a double-break behind with an ace and a backhand winner from 15-40 in game four.
With Federer in such imperious form he did not need any good fortune to help him out, and Murray looked understandably deflated after the Swiss benefited from a net cord when serving at 30-30 in game six.
It was a cruel blow and, despite saving four more break points in the following game, Murray - who showed signs of beginning to feel a thigh problem - could do nothing to stop Federer easing into a two-set lead as the world number one dominated on serve.
Murray now faced a daunting task but he was up for the challenge, smacking his racquet into the court in anger after missing with a backhand on break point in game two before making up for that error with a sharp forehand to move 4-2 clear.
Capitalising on that situation was another matter, though, and Murray could not serve out the set in a tense game, netting a forehand on the second break point.
The set came down to a tie-break and it proved to be dramatic.
Henman and Becker on the Aussie Open final
Murray failed to convert five set points - twice when he should have made winners - and Federer missed his first match point with a forehand pass that flashed just wide, and his second when he inexplicably left a Murray shot that floated past his racquet and landed inside the baseline.
But after two hours and 41 minutes, Federer finally brought the tension to an end and wrapped up a deserved victory when Murray put a backhand into the net.
An emotional Murray was close to tears afterwards, saying: "I can cry like Roger, it's a shame I can't play like him."
He added: "I'd like to congratulate Roger, his achievements in tennis are incredible. To keep doing it year after year is pretty special. He was much better than me tonight so well done to him for that."
Federer responded: "Andy, well done for your incredible tournament. You're too good a player not to win a Grand Slam so don't worry about it.
"I'm over the moon winning this again. I played some of the best tennis again of my life these last two weeks."
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