Winning that game, alone, wouldn't have won Murray the match. But it certainly would have given him hard-to-stop momentum that might have taken his mind off the painful blister developing on his right foot.
"At this level, it can come down to just a few points here or there. My probably biggest chance was at the beginning of the second set; (I) didn't quite get it. When Novak had his chance at the end of the third, he got his," Murray said.
Another turning point was Murray's loss of concentration at 2-2 in the second tiebreaker. Interrupting his service action because a white feather was floating onto the court, then catching it and getting rid of it only to serve a double-fault suggested that Murray still lets too many outside influences interfere with his focus.
"It just caught my eye before I served. I thought it was a good idea to move it," Murray said. "Maybe it wasn't because I obviously double-faulted."
So Murray remains a work in progress, not the finished product. Lendl still has work to do.
Lendl understands Murray because, like the Scot, he lost his first four major finals before winning his fifth — the 1984 French Open. Lendl's jagged career path of sustained disappointment followed by eventual long-term success should again offer hope to Murray. After his 1984 breakthrough, Lendl lost his sixth major final, as Murray has now done, and his seventh, too. But the career record Lendl retired with — eight titles from 19 major finals — is one Murray would doubtless give his hind teeth for. A moral of Lendl's story is try and then try again, making him the perfect coach to extricate Murray from the trough of this latest defeat.
Together, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray form a Fab Four who have separated themselves from the rest of the men's field with the sustained excellence of their play.
But Murray remains the group's Ringo Starr — still bringing up the rear. He needs more hits of his own for that to change.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester