Jannik Sinner defeated Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final for the first time in six years.
Novak Djokovic’s attempt to win a record 25th Grand Slam singles title was ended on Friday, January 26 when he was defeated by Italian Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Italian will now play Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final.
The Serb had been expecting to guarantee the record for most Grand Slam singles titles through and through after sharing it with Australian Margaret Court since winning his 24th major at the US Open last September, but Sinner declared himself as a Grand Slam force in an unimaginable style.
Sinner was viewed as the most probable opponent to stop Djokovic from claiming an eleventh title in Melbourne ahead of the competition ahead of beating him two times in about fourteen days at the end of last season at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup.
Jannik Sinner now becomes the first Italian tennis player EVER, male or female, to reach the final of the Australian Open.
At 22, Sinner is also the youngest Australian Open men’s singles finalist since Novak Djokovic in 2008.
He saved a match point in the third-set attach break to give himself hope but there was no emotional rebound, with Sinner refocusing stunningly and proceeding to secure a surprising win after three hours and 22 minutes.
The 22-year-old Italian said:
“It was a very, very tough match. I started off really well, he missed for two sets, I felt like he was not feeling that great on court. I just tried to keep pushing.
“In the third set I had match point, I had the forehand which I missed but that’s tennis. I just tried to be ready for the fourth set.
“I was looking forward for this match. It’s always nice to have this kind of player where you can learn from. I lost last year in the semis at Wimbledon and I learned a lot from that match.
“The confidence from the end of last year has for sure kept the belief that I can play against the best players in the world. I’m really happy that I can play my first final and let’s see how it goes.”
Novak Djokovic lost his first match at the Australian Open since R4 in 2018 when he lost to Hyeon Chung, 2195 days ago – he won 33 consecutive matches in this span equalling the longest winning streak at the Australian Open in the Open Era.
Sinner, the first Italian to make an Australian Open singles final, had not dropped a set all tournament before this match, and he started as he meant to go on, breaking the Djokovic serve to lead 2-0 with a searing forehand followed by a drive volley winner.
By contrast, nothing was working for Djokovic, with routine shots landing in the net or out of court, while he was also struggling on serve.
Sinner broke again to lead 5-1 and wrapped up the first set with just over half an hour gone.
Djokovic is a master at pacing himself in best-of-five-sets tennis and he would certainly not have panicked having lost only two of the last 17 Grand Slam matches in which he dropped the first set.
But the pattern of the match continued in the same vein, with more Djokovic errors helping Sinner break for 2-1 in the second set.
Djokovic whipped up crowd support after saving a break point at 2-4 in fine style but Sinner broke anyway two points later and served out the set.
Two years ago at Wimbledon, Sinner led Djokovic by two sets to love only to lose in five, so he knew very well that the match was far from over.
Djokovic, who had barely showed any emotion, clenched his fist after saving a break point in the opening game of the third set, and he at least managed to serve better.
At 5-5 and deuce on the Serb’s serve, a medical emergency in the crowd forced a delay for several minutes, but Djokovic held his nerve on the resumption.
The world No 1 knew it was now or never in the tie-break, and he opened up a 4-2 lead, but Sinner surged back, creating a match point at 6-5 but netting a forehand, and a backhand over the baseline two points later gave Djokovic a lifeline.
He was still hanging on, though, saving three break points in the second game of the fourth set only to then be broken from 40-0 two games later.
Djokovic forced Sinner to serve it out but the Italian did not waver, clinching the biggest win of his life with a forehand winner.
This was this first completed match at a Grand Slam in Novak Djokovic’s career where he did not forge a single break point chance (0 in 19 receiving games).
The result was, of course, a shock given Djokovic’s incredible record here – this is the first time he has ever lost having made it beyond the quarter-finals – but it was his display that was the most surprising.
He committed 54 unforced errors and did not even make Sinner use his haymaker groundstrokes that often, the Italian instead able to maintain a very high but comfortable level and not face a single break point.
Daniil Medvedev recovered from two sets down for the second time this fortnight to beat bitter rival Alexander Zverev and reach his third Australian Open final.
The third seed was second best through two sets but won two tie-breaks before clinching a 5-7 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory after midnight on Rod Laver Arena.
Having lost to Djokovic in 2021 and Rafael Nadal from two sets up in 2022, Medvedev will hope this is finally his year.
“I was a little bit lost but during the third set I started saying that, if I lose this match, I want to be proud of myself, I want to fight for every point,” he said. “I’m very proud.
“Physically and mentally it’s tough five sets. Many times in the fifth I was not strong enough. One month ago I wanted to change a little bit to try to be even more strong mentally. I’m still far from being perfect but I’m trying.”
Sinner handed Djokovic a first defeat at his Melbourne Park fortress in six years and power into his maiden Grand Slam final
Former British No 1 Laura Robson on Eurosport, said:
“I’ll admit the atmosphere here in Melbourne was kind of muted actually, because there were certainly a lot of Djokovic fans around me. They had their flags; they were ready to celebrate.
“Sinner just crashed the party. He was outstanding from start to finish. I love that he didn’t get disappointed when he lost the match point chance in the third set. He just stayed committed to the game plan even more.
“It feels like we’ve felt this result coming, haven’t we, based on their meetings in the last few months at the back-end of last year [Sinner winning two of three]. But to do it in a best-of-five match at a Grand Slam is a completely different thing, so it’s just phenomenal.”
Tim Henman called Sinner’s effort phenomenal, saying: “When he had that match point in the third set, he got a little bit tight on the forehand.
“And, having lost a two-set lead against Djokovic at Wimbledon, you sort of think, ‘is history going to repeat itself?’ But he’s a better player, more mature and he didn’t panic.
“A phenomenal effort and phenomenal achievement. And I love the way he reacted after winning – there were no wild celebrations, because he views this as part of the journey. He wants to win his first slam.”