Murray's loss brings tears, apology
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- The weight of a nation's expectations broke Andy Murray's composure Sunday after Roger Federer broke his game.
Receiving his runner-up prize, Murray's voice faltered and he blinked away tears as he apologized to his fans at home for not bringing home the first British trophy in men's tennis majors in 74 years.
"I got great support back home the last couple of weeks. I'm sorry I couldn't do it for you tonight but ..." He paused to gather himself, then joked: "I can cry like Roger, it's just a shame I can't play like him."
Behind him, Federer smiled. The new Australian Open champion broke down in tears when he lost last year's final to Rafael Nadal. He also cried at his win in 2006, when he was presented the trophy by legend Rod Laver.
On Sunday, Federer won his fourth Australian Open title with his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win over Murray but applauded the Scot for his performance.
"You're too good of a player not to win a Grand Slam, so don't worry about it," Federer said.
The 22-year-old Murray had set a record for British men just by reaching two major finals in the Open era but his countrymen were hoping for more. Their expectations were focused on Murray becoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of the four tennis majors.
His progress through the tournament was heralded on the front pages of newspapers in the United Kingdom, and millions tuned in to watch the final.
Murray obviously felt the pressure on him but said he put that aside when he played.
"Everyone wishing you well from back home, that's obviously nice," he told reporters later. "Once you get on the court, it's not what you're thinking about at all."
After all, he had the world No. 1 to contend with.
Murray now holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads -- one of only four players who can boast such an advantage -- but has lost the last three.
After falling behind two sets, Murray fought through a long tiebreaker in the third set but lost when he netted a backhand and gave Federer his fourth Australian Open and 16th Grand Slam title.
"I don't feel great," Murray admitted. "I think it was more the way the end of the match finished. Obviously it was pretty emotional end to the match. ... I had my chance to get back into the match. That was probably why I was upset."
Federer was impressed with Murray and his temperament after the match.
"I thought he was actually doing fine until he told me, 'I think there will be some tears'. I'm like, 'Don't worry, it will be all right,"' Federer said of Murray.
"In a way it was hard to watch, but at the same time I like seeing players who care for the game. It's nice to see. I wish only the best for him."
Murray said he planned to take some time off to rest and assess his priorities in terms of his tennis game, and gave himself credit for his achievements.
"Getting to a second slam final, it's a great achievement," Murray said. "So I've got to be proud of that."
But he, like the rest of Britain, wants more.
"I'm hungry to win one," he said. "I worked really, really hard to try to do it and give myself the opportunity. So far it's not been good enough. But I'm sure one day it will be. When it comes, maybe because of the two losses, it will be even better."
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