Roger Federer dismantled Andy Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday to extend his own record to 16 Grand Slam titles and prolong the British drought.
Federer collected his fourth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win at Rod Laver Arena that, apart from the tiebreaker, lacked the drama and raw emotion of his five-set loss here last year to then No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal. Last year, Federer sobbed when Rod Laver presented the winners’ trophy to Nadal, having missed a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 career majors.
This time, Murray was on the verge of tears, drawing deep breaths as he apologized for failing to end a 74-year-old drought for British men at the Grand Slam tournaments.
"Firstly, congratulations Roger, his achievements in tennis are incredible, to keep doing it year after year are pretty incredible,” the 22-year-old Scot said. "He was a lot better than me tonight.
"Hopefully one time I can come back and win here,” he added, his voice breaking. "I got great support back home the last couple of weeks — Sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight but …”
Murray could barely finish his thank-you, explaining: "I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.”
Federer, who had to be consoled by Nadal last year, offered Murray some reassurance this time.
"Well done for your incredible tournament, you played it fantastic,” Federer said. "You’re too good of a player not to win a Grand Slam, so don’t worry about it.”
Federer dropped serve only twice in the match and hit 46 winners. He said he felt as good as ever.
"I’m over the moon winning this again. I think I played some of my best tennis in my life these last two weeks.”
Federer saved five set points and wasted two match points in the tiebreaker with some uncharacteristic shot selection before clinching it when Murray netted a backhand after 2 hours, 41 minutes.
Murray was desperate to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of the four tennis majors, but seldom had the answers to Federer’s unrivaled finals experience. He had set a record for British men just by reaching two major finals in the Open era.
Federer was playing in his 22nd Grand Slam final and 18th of the last 19.
He also beat Murray in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open final, the only previous meeting between the pair at a Grand Slam.
Murray still holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads — one of only four players who can boast that — but has lost the last three.
Federer had just discovered in Melbourne last year — unknown widely at the time — that he was to be the father of twins.
The emotions bubbled over after his loss to Nadal. But he recovered from that defeat to claim his first clay court major at the French Open, completing a career Grand Slam of titles at the four majors.
He regained his Wimbledon title and then, after his twin daughters were born, reached his fourth Grand Slam final of the year at the U.S. Open, only to lose in an upset to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer ensured no recurrence of the upset here and added the 2010 title to his wins at Melbourne Park in 2004, 2006 and ’07, becoming only the fifth man to win four Australian titles.
American Andre Agassi, who won the last of his four in 2003, was also the last father to win a Grand Slam title.
"It’s also very special the first Grand Slam as a father,” Federer said as his wife, Mirka, smiled and clapped from the stands, almost crying herself. "You get the best out of me.”
Federer got on top early, breaking Murray’s opening service game when he leaped onto a second serve and fired a forehand down the line to lead 2-0.
Murray rallied immediately, breaking Federer’s serve to huge cheers from the crowd with consecutive passing shots — one which the Swiss star even had to applaud. Federer had to save three break points in the fifth game before holding with back-to-back aces. He then broke Murray in the eighth game, lifting his intensity in perfect time so that he could serve for the set.
He had no trouble closing with a forehand winner down the line.
Federer dominated the second set after breaking Murray’s serve in the third game. The Scot did fend off seven break points across two service games to ensure Federer had to serve it out.
When Federer’s intensity dropped slightly in the third, Murray pounced. He broke in the sixth game, roaring "C’Mon” after rifling a forehand past Federer at the net.
He didn’t face a break point until he was serving to take the match into a fourth set, when Federer pounced again. He got his first break-point chance of the third set with an angled forehand service return and clinched it two points later when Murray netted a forehand.
Federer rallied from 5-2 down in the third to force the tiebreaker and, after saving three set points, missed his first chance to finish it off when his forehand just missed the line.
His unusual decision to try a drop shot at 10-9 backfired when Murray surged to the net and put a winner over Federer’s head.
After saving another set point, Federer made no mistake with the third match point.
In the mixed doubles final, Leander Paes and Cara Black beat Ekaterina Makarova and Jaroslav Levinsky 7-5, 6-3 for the Australian title. It was the second Grand Slam title for Paes and Black as a pair, following their victory at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Paes has six Grand Slam doubles titles and five Grand Slam mixed-doubles titles.