MELBOURNE, Australia -- The pantheon holding tennis' all-time greats is getting awfully crowded at the top.

With a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) win over No. 2 Andy Murray on Sunday, No. 1 Novak Djokovic captured his record sixth Australian Open title and tied legends Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg with his 11th Grand Slam title.

For more than a year, Djokovic has taken the game to an extraordinary new level. He has now seized three consecutive major titles for the second time in his career.

Amazingly, he is doing this in an era that still features Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"I am extremely honored to be mentioned with the legends of our sports like Rod Laver, who is present tonight," Novak Djokovic said in his on-court interview. "Roy Emerson, who is not here tonight, it is a great privilege to equal your record of six Australian Opens."

A year after going 82-6 with 11 titles, a season that was thrust into the conversation of the greatest ever, Djokovic is off to another sterling start.

The numbers Djokovic has strung together are mind-blowing. Among his current notable accomplishments:
  • 21 straight match wins in majors
  • seven consecutive tour-level finals
  • 15 straight match wins overall
  • 11 wins in his past 12 matches vs. Murray
But the manner in which he beat his final two opponents in Melbourne truly speaks to Djokovic's stranglehold on the game. Despite a valiant effort from Federer in the semifinal, Djokovic lost only one set in his final two matches -- this against the next two best players in the world.

"Each time we play a Grand Slam is very unique kind of feeling and circumstances," Djokovic said. "We need to leave each day, each hour, with a purpose and hope we can get to this point."

Novak Djokovic is a perfect 6-for-6 in Australian Open finals after defeating Andy Murray on Sunday for his latest Grand Slam title.Graham Denholm/Getty ImagesDjokovic believes time away from the frenetic life that comes with the crucible of chasing a Grand Slam title has kept him focused. On Friday, he visited the Botanical Gardens on the south bank of the Yarra River to mentally reset.

His path through the draw came with some difficulties. In the fourth round, Djokovic committed an astonishing 100 unforced errors against Gilles Simon. Out of sorts, Djokovic failed to capitalize on one drop shot after another. Against Kei Nishikori a round later, he remained off form despite prevailing in straight sets.

It wasn't until his semifinal encounter against Federer that Djokovic cleaned up his game, a win he attributed to his self-belief and intensity.

That level carried over against Murray, now a five-time Australian Open runner-up.

Djokovic won almost 60 percent of his second-serve points, compared to Murray's 35 percent, and was broken only twice. It didn't help Murray that he committed 65 unforced errors, 24 more than the Serb.

The opening set got away in a hurry. After 16 minutes, Murray was already down two breaks. Fourteen minutes later, it was over.

But Murray, who was awake until 1:30 a.m. watching his brother win the men's doubles title, began to show a fighting spirit in the second set. In the opening game, he won a draining 28-shot rally and exulted loudly. At 1-1, he withstood an 11-minute service game. For the first time, it looked like a match worthy of a Grand Slam final.

After a quick exchange of breaks later in the set, Murray hung on to an ultra-tense 14-point game to take the lead at 5-4 when Djokovic dumped a backhand into the net.

The turning point came a game later, when Murray dropped a 40-love lead. The game featured a 36-point rally, the longest of the match, that appeared to wipe out the Scot. Djokovic won the next game to take a commanding two-set lead.

Murray, enraged at himself for not capitalizing on a key moment, smashed his racket into the court.

Novak Djokovic won his second straight and sixth overall Australian Open title Sunday, putting him among an illustrious group to have that much success at one Grand Slam.

Most Grand Slam titles at single event, Open era (since 1968)

PlayerSlamTitlesRafael NadalFrench Open9Roger FedererWimbledon7Pete SamprasWimbledon7Novak DjokovicAustralian6Bjorn BorgFrench Open6-- ESPN Stats & InformationIn the third set, Djokovic finally showed some nerves. Up a break after the first game, he was broken soon after. The frame went into a tiebreaker, where he seized control immediately.

An ace down the middle on the third match point clinched his latest title. Djokovic clenched his fist, walked over to his entourage for a few hugs and then went back to his chair, a relatively subdued reaction from a player who has owned this tournament for more than a half-decade.

"First of all, I have to pay respects [to] Andy and his team for another great tournament," Djokovic said. "You're a great champion and a great person who is very professional, and you'll have more opportunities to fight for this trophy."

Much like Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova, this appears to be the next great non-rivalry in tennis. Murray last unseated the world No. 1 in the final of the Scot's historic 2013 Wimbledon championship.

The lopsided history aside, Murray was marred by distractions throughout the two weeks in Melbourne Park. First, he vowed to leave the tournament at any time if his wife, Kim Sears, who is eight months pregnant, went into labor. Then last week, Nigel Sears, his father-in-law and coach of Ana Ivanovic, collapsed at Rod Laver Arena.

As much as the Scot attempted to calibrate his focus on his game, he said he felt emotionally drained in a three-set win against Bernard Tomic in the fourth round.

"Feel like I have been here before," Murray said lightheartedly in his on-court interview. "Firstly I like to congratulate Novak. Six Australian Open titles is an incredible feat, incredible consistency."

Then addressing his wife at home, Murray began to break down.

"Just know that you've been a legend the past two weeks," Murray said. "Just know I will be on the next flight home."

If that wasn't enough of a burden, Murray spent nine sets and more than seven hours on the court in his two matches leading up to the final.

Advantage Djokovic before the first ball was ever struck Sunday.



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