Andy Murray suffered final heartbreak at the hands of Novak Djokovic as he was beaten in straight sets at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
The world number one bullied Murray's serve throughout to clinch his first title of the year since the Australian Open 6-1 7-6 (7-4). Murray was on the back foot from the start, losing back-to-back service games to concede the first set, before relying on his defiance to remain in the contest.
The Scot somehow forced a second set tie-break, despite being taken to deuce in four of his six service games, but Djokovic had enough answers to secure a successful title defence and reassert his dominance over his long-time rival.
Djokovic beat Murray in a marathon five-set semi-final at Melbourne Park but the Scot won their most recent meeting in Dubai last month to give him hope.
Murray had also enjoyed a comfortable week in the Miami sun after he was handed two walkovers en route to the final, most notably when Rafael Nadal pulled out of their semi-final before they walked onto court. That may have left Murray slight rusty, however, as Djokovic took control in a dominant opening set.
Murray held his opening service game but he was ineffective thereafter as Djokovic produced the type of precise power hitting that has elevated him to the top of the world rankings. The Serbian broke Murray's next two service games before comfortably serving out the first set in 47 minutes.
It was reminiscent of his semi-final against Juan Monaco, when Djokovic dropped just eight first-set points, before he allowed his opponent back into the match.
Murray had to battle to keep alive hope that Djokovic might do the same again as he somehow held on to his opening three service games after being taken to deuce on each occasion.
At 5-5 he was again taken to deuce where, controversially, the Scot seemed to call for a line review but, after the chair umpire failed to spot it, he went on to win the point and the game.
Murray, who managed just one break point all match, then took Djokovic to deuce but he could not force the chance to go to the tie-break. Djokovic surged ahead early in the decider and when Murray mishit a forehand long he could celebrate a third title at Crandon Park.