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Federer beats Murray, wins Australian Open for fourth time

MELBOURNE, Australia - Roger Federer experienced quite a range of emotions these past two Australian Opens.

A year ago, he sobbed on court after losing a thrilling final in five sets. But on Sunday, Federer was all smiles after beating Andy Murray, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), for a fourth championship in Melbourne and a 16th Grand Slam title overall. "All of a sudden, it was over, and it hit me," he said. "It was very much a roller-coaster."

While Murray missed a chance to end a drought for British men at Grand Slam tournaments that dates to 1936, Federer now can aim at a true calendar-year Grand Slam, something no man has accomplished since 1969.

"I'm over the moon winning this again," the 28-year-old Swiss star said. "I played some of my best tennis in my life these last two weeks. It's also very special - the first Grand Slam as a father."

Federer only recently had discovered he was to become the father of twins when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final last year, then broke down during the trophy presentation.

This time it was Murray's turn. "I got great support back home the last couple of weeks,'' said the 22-year-old from Scotland, his voice breaking as he choked back tears. "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. Even before becoming tearful last year, he cried at his win in 2006 when he was presented the trophy by legend Rod Laver.

"In a way it was hard to watch,'' Federer said of Murray's display of emotion, "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."

Compounding the emotions for Federer in Australia a year ago: He missed a chance to tie Pete Sampras' then-record 14 Grand Slam singles titles. But he matched that mark a few months later at the French Open, where he also completed a career Grand Slam by winning a major on clay to go with his grass and hard-court titles. Then he regained his Wimbledon crown for major No. 15. In his first major after his twin daughters were born, he was upset in the U.S. Open final by Juan Martin del Potro.

Murray leads Federer 6-5 in career matches - one of four players who can boast such an advantage - but has lost the last three. Federer credited the likes of Murray and Nadal for helping him lift his game. "I always knew I had it in my hand. The question is do I have it in my mind and in my legs?" he said. "That's something I had to work extremely hard at."

Federer had joked after his semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that Britain had been searching for a male Grand Slam champion for about 150,000 years. Yesterday, he said he was just kidding with his comments about the British wait. "It's not an easy thing to do to win your first Grand Slam," he said of Murray. "His game is so good, I'm convinced he'll win one . . . He's extremely strong in his mind. I feel he's got the game to do it. It's just a matter of when."

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