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Federer remains the master after beating Murray
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Swiss master did it again. Roger Federer now has a 16th grand slam title, a fourth in Australia and a stranglehold over his rivals that shows no sign of ending.
Britain's long wait continues. The added burden of 74 years of expectation was too much for Andy Murray and he failed to produce his best when it mattered most.
The Scotsman was brave but Federer was just too good, winning Sunday's Australian Open final 6-3 6-4 7-6.
It was not so much a match as a tennis lesson but Federer said it was players like Murray that brought out the best in him.
"I'm being pushed a great deal by the new generation coming up," Federer said.
"They've made me a better player, because I think this has been one of my finest performances in a long time, or maybe forever."
At the presentation ceremony, Murray broke down in tears, just as Federer had done when he won the 2006 final and again last year when he lost to Rafa Nadal.
"I can cry like Roger. It's just a shame I can't play like him," Murray said.
Murray's time may still come. He is just 22 and has already played in two grand slam finals, at the U.S. Open two years ago and now Australia. At the same age, Federer had only made one grand slam final.
Murray might have lost both his finals in straight sets to Federer but there is no shame in that. The apprentice's best years are still ahead of him and Britain may yet get their first male grand slam champion since Fred Perry won the U.S. Open in 1936.
"You're too good a player not to win a grand slam so don't worry about it," Federer reassured him.
Later he added: "The next one is not gonna get any easier. But his game is so good that I'm convinced he will win one."
Federer's game is not quite as clinical and precise as it used to be but his grip on the game has never been tighter.
Rarely was this better illustrated than Sunday's final at Melbourne Park as the pair captivated the Rod Laver Arena crowd with some absorbing rallies.
Murray went into the match full of optimism and confidence and there were moments when he had the world number one under pressure.
In the opening set, he broke Federer's serve when he chased down a drop shot then whipped a forehand across the court, then in the third set he broke him again, with another sweetly struck winner.
He also served for the third set in the ninth game and had five set points in the tiebreaker, but was unable to convert.
"I thought I deserved to take it into a fourth, but it didn't happen," Murray said.
"I had my chance to get back into the match. That was probably why I was upset."
Throughout the match, Federer was always more aggressive. He made more unforced errors than Murray but also hit more winners, 19 with his forehand, six with his backhand and 11 thundering aces.
He wasted two match points in the tiebreak but took the third that came his way when he thumped a return back to Murray that put the Scotsman on the back foot and ended when he lamely slapped a backhand into the net.
"I'm over the moon, winning this again," Federer said. "I think I played some of the best tennis of my life again the last two weeks.
"This is also special because it's my first grand slam as a father. I'm looking forward to them watching me next year maybe."
Federer has already broken almost every record in men's tennis. He has made the final in 18 of the last 19 grand slams but lost none of his enthusiasm.
"There's no secret behind it. I'm definitely a very talented player," he said.
"I always knew I had something special, but I didn't know it was like, you know, that crazy.
"I definitely had to work extremely hard so I would pick the right shot at the right time.
"I haven't put a number on how many grand slams I want to try to win. Whatever happens happens."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)
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