Sport

AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Supreme Sinner conquers Medvedev to claim maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne

Supreme Sinner conquers Medvedev to claim maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne
Jannik Sinner of Italy poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup during the official presentation after his Men's Singles Final match against Daniil Medvedev during the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on 28n January 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan / Getty Images)

The 22-year-old fourth seed Jannik Sinner on Sunday became the first Italian to win the Australian Open.

Jannik Sinner ushered in a new era at the Australian Open as the Italian capped off an outstanding fortnight with a superb comeback to outlast Daniil Medvedev and claim his first Grand Slam title on Sunday. 

Sinner came from two sets down to beat Medvedev 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 and become the first Melbourne champion for a decade not named Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer in the first title clash since 2005 not to feature any of the “Big Three”. 

He dominated the tournament up to the final, with a thumping win over holder Djokovic in the semifinals, but had to dig deep to take his place as the king and become the first Italian man to bag a major since Adriano Panatta won the 1976 French Open. 

“It takes a little while to process everything,” said the 22-year-old after becoming the youngest champion since Djokovic won the 2008 title at the Rod Laver Arena. 

“I’m extremely happy how I handled things. The situation on court was very, very tough. 

“The most important part was the support I had throughout these two weeks. I felt that many people were watching also from home on the TV, so I just tried my best. 

“I was a little bit in trouble today with two sets to love down and in a little bit over one hour. So I just tried to stay positive, trying to stick to the game plan, which I had to adjust a little bit.” 

Sinner’s star has been on the rise and he primed himself for success on the big stage by beating Djokovic at the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup at the end of last year when he led his country to its second title in the team competition. 

A Grand Slam triumph was the next step to keep pace with fellow young gun Carlos Alcaraz, who already has two, and Sinner went about his task in Melbourne efficiently. 

But in Medvedev, he faced a man eager to erase the pain of two defeats in the Australian Open final — to Djokovic in 2021 and Nadal in five sets in 2022 — and the Russian showed no sign of having a mental hangover from those clashes. 

Jannik Sinner of Italy poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup during the official presentation after his Men’s Singles Final match against Daniil Medvedev during the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on 28 January 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: James D. Morgan / Getty Images)

Multiple comebacks 

Having become the first man since Pete Sampras almost three decades ago to reach the final after multiple comebacks from two sets down, Medvedev made a blazing start to ease through the opening set with a double break. 

It was only the third and fourth times that Sinner had dropped his serve in the tournament and he appeared to be troubled by the flat trajectory of his opponent’s shots early in the encounter. 

Medvedev’s only previous loss in 51 Grand Slam matches on hardcourts after winning the opening set came at Melbourne Park against Nadal in the 2022 final and the 27-year-old nicknamed the “Octopus” soon got one tentacle on the trophy. 

After wasting four chances to break in the second game that had five deuces and lasted nearly 12 minutes, Medvedev got his nose in front 3-1 on his way to wrapping up the second set as Sinner’s hopes of responding faded with the setting sun. 

But Sinner grabbed a break back and nearly got another late in the second set as Medvedev showed signs of frailty after more than 20 hours on the court before Sunday, but the Russian pushed himself on with plenty of backing from the crowd. 

The fourth seed missed a forehand pass at the net after a 31-shot rally in the 10th game of the third set but shrugged it off to break Medvedev and take the set, beginning his comeback in the clash which suddenly had a different feel to it. 

“I like to dance in the pressure storm,” Sinner said. 

“I like it because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis. I’m also quite relaxed on this occasion, because I always try to enjoy myself on the court. 

“So, I think pressure is a privilege, to be honest.” 

Sinner saved a breakpoint at 3-3 in a tense fourth set with a big ace and pounced on Medvedev’s serve again late on to level the match at two sets apiece, before a vital break for a 4-2 lead in the decider put him on course for victory. 

He celebrated by dropping to his back on the blue court before climbing into the stands to embrace his coaches, Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi. 

There was heartbreak all over again for former US Open champion Medvedev, who twice came from two sets down to reach the Melbourne Park final only to finish with a fifth defeat in six major title clashes. 

After spending a Grand Slam record 24 hours and 17 minutes on court, Medvedev sounded upbeat. 

“I’m dreaming more than ever, probably not today but in general in life,” Medvedev said. 

“I wanted to win. I was close. Was I really close or not? Tough to say, but I wasn’t far.” DM 

Sinner Fact Box 

  • Age: 22
  • Nation: Italy
  • ATP Ranking: 4
  • Seeding: 4
  • Grand Slam titles: 1 (Australian Open 2024)

Road to the final

  • First round: Beat Botic van de Zandschulp (Netherlands) 6-4 7-5 6-3
  • Second round: Beat Jesper De Jong (Netherlands) 6-2 6-2 6-2
  • Third round: Beat 26-Sebastian Baez (Argentina) 6-0 6-1 6-3
  • Fourth round: Beat 15-Karen Khachanov (Russia) 6-4 7-5 6-3
  • Quarterfinals: Beat 5-Andrey Rublev (Russia) 6-4 7-6(5) 6-3
  • Semifinals: Beat 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 6-1 6-2 6-7(6) 6-3
  • Final: Beat 3-Daniil Medvedev (Russia) 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3

Early life 

  • Born in Innichen, northern Italy. Began playing tennis at age three.

Career to date

  • Began his professional career playing on the ITF Circuit in 2018.
  • Won the ATP Challenger title in 2019, becoming the youngest Italian to do so. Qualified for the main draw of the 2019 US Open, but suffered a defeat on his Grand Slam debut to former champion Stan Wawrinka.
  • Won the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals by upsetting Alex de Minaur in straight sets. Ended the year ranked 78th in the world, winning the ATP Newcomer of the Year award.
  • Won his first Grand Slam main-draw match at the Australian Open 2020. He reached the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2020 by defeating David Goffin and Alexander Zverev before losing to Rafa Nadal.
  • Won the 2020 Sofia Open, his first ATP title, and became the youngest Italian to win a tour-level title in the Open Era. Ended the year ranked 37th in the world.
  • In 2021, he won the Great Ocean Road Open, Citi Open, Sofia Open and European Open and played in the ATP Finals as the first alternate. Ended the year ranked number 10 in the world.
  • In 2022, he reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and US Open. He lost the latter to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz in a match that lasted five hours and 15 minutes, the second-longest in the tournament’s history.
  • Reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon 2023 and won his first Masters 1000 title at the Canadian Open. He also reached a career-high ranking of world number four, becoming just the second Italian to reach the top five.
  • Beat Novak Djokovic in the round-robin stage of the ATP Finals before losing to the Serbian in the final. Helped Italy to win the Davis Cup after a gap of 47 years in November 2023.
  • Beat third seed Daniil Medvedev to win his first Grand Slam title at the 2024 Australian Open. DM
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