Federer powers past Murray in finale

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.

Federer was all smiles Sunday after rather easily beating Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) for a fourth championship in Melbourne and 16th Grand Slam title overall.

"All of a sudden, it was over, and it hit me," Federer 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 stretches all the way to 1936, Federer became the first Dad to win a major singles title since 2003. He also 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 had only recently discovered he was to become the father of twins when he lost the Australian Open final in five wrenching sets against rival Rafael Nadal last year, then broke down during the presentation.

This time, Federer was in control of the action pretty much throughout against Murray, and afterward, it was the 22-year-old from Scotland whose voice was breaking and who was choking back tears.

"I can cry like Roger," Murray said. "It's just a shame I can't play like him."

Compounding the emotions for Federer in Australia a year ago: He missed a chance to tie Pete Sampras' then-record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles. But Federer didn't have to wait long. 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.

Now the girls are six months old, and Federer has settled into living and traveling with the family. He'll head to the French Open in May as the defending champion for the first time.

In Melbourne, where he also won titles in 2004 and 2006-07, Federer said he'd returned to his highest level. That can't make other players feel too good.

Federer also 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.

"Now I feel, like, obviously I'm being pushed a great deal by the new generation coming up. 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."

Federer had joked in an on-court interview after his semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to set up the final with Murray that Britain had been searching for a male Grand Slam champion for about 150,000 years. Murray advanced with a quarterfinal win over Nadal, who retired in the third set with a knee injury that will sideline him for four weeks, and a semifinal victory over Croatia's Marin Cilic.

On Sunday, Federer said he was just kidding around with his comments about the British wait.

"It's not an easy thing to do to win your first Grand Slam ... It's just a tough thing," Federer said, adding for 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."

Federer was in his 22nd Grand Slam final -- 18 of the last 19. Murray made history just by reaching his second Grand Slam final, the first British man to reach two major finals in the Open era, which began in 1968. He lost his previous final to Federer, too, in straight sets at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Murray said he had chances in the first and third sets to put more pressure on Federer, but wasn't given any room to take the next step. Now he'll take a break, and rethink his strategy after moving to No. 3 in the rankings.

"I got great support back home the last couple of weeks. Sorry I couldn't do it for you tonight but ... He was a lot better than me tonight," Murray said. "Hopefully, one time I can come back and win here."

Murray still holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads -- one of only four players who can boast of an edge -- but has lost the last three.

Federer broke Murray's serve twice in the opening set and once in the second. Federer rallied from 5-2 down in the third, breaking Murray when he served to push the match into a fourth set.

In the tiebreaker, Federer saved five set points, and wasted two match points, before he converted his third. It was all over in 2 hours, 41 minutes.

For Murray, it was all over too quickly. For Federer, it was celebrations as usual with close friends and family -- although now he needs to make sure not to wake the babies.