ANDY Murray's hopes of reaching a third successive Australian Open final were extinguished by Novak Djokovic after an extraordinary five-set encounter in Melbourne.

It seemed Murray was on track to record his fifth victory in 11 meetings with the Serbian when he led two sets to one and with the world number again struggling with the breathing difficulties he experienced in his quarter-final victory over David Ferrer.

But Djokovic is made of stern stuff and he romped through the fourth and then edged a dramatic fifth as Murray, having hit back from 5-2 down to level at 5-5, dropped his serve to lose 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 7-5.

"It is difficult to describe, I was just trying to focus on every point," Djokovic said of his comeback.

"Andy deserves the credit to come back from 5-2 down, he was fighting, I was fighting.

"It was evidently a physical match, it was one of the best matches I have played, emotionally and physically it was equally hard."