Italian world No.3 Jannik Sinner is a grand slam champion for the first time in his career after winning the Australian Open against Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Sinner came back from two sets to love down to become the king of Melbourne Park, dethroning Novak Djokovic — who he beat to reach the final — as the new reigning champion.
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Medvedev had looked in complete control during a clinical first two sets, but Sinner, who had never made it to a grand slam final before Sunday night, found something within himself to turn the match on its head and win in three hours and 44 minutes.
“Sinner seals the deal with an epic comeback, and he is the Australian Open champion,” Todd Woodbridge said on commentary.
“And what a way to seal the deal, with a ripping forehand down the line.”
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Sinner was made to serve for the match and, despite a wavering moment of nerves at 30-30, was able to close it out in front of nearly 15,000 people inside Rod Laver Arena.
“It’s the most important game he has ever played in his life. These games almost never go easy for first-timers,” Jim Courier said during the final game.
Jannik Sinner celebrates with his team. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
But it was Medvedev who struck early, breaking the Sinner serve in the third game of the match and held on to the buffer for the remainder of the set, which he won with another break of serve in the ninth game, taking it out 6-3.
He faced another four break points in his first service game of the second set, but saved them all and kept himself in the contest.
The 22-year-old couldn’t get out of jail again two games later though, going down 3-1 for the second set in a row before falling even further behind when his Russian opponent took another double break.
Sinner clawed one of the breaks back but couldn’t go on with it, falling in a heap to lose the set, 6-3, meaning he would have to go the distance if he were to lift the trophy.
“I haven’t (ever seen Medvedev play better than this). It has shell-shocked everyone,” Lleyton Hewitt said of Medvedev’s ominous form.
Jim Courier agreed: “This is as good as he’s ever played, in my view”.
“He’s just got the ball on a string here at the moment,” Woodbridge added.
The Italian steadied his nerves in the third set and, with the support of the crowd behind him, got himself in a winning position for the first time in the match.
He traded service games until, at 5-4 up, Sinner finally broke the Medvedev serve and claimed the set, breathing life into the match just after the two-hour mark of it.
“He’s got rid of the nerves that were there earlier on, played himself into it — now it’s just like any other match,” Hewitt said.
Sinner’s Melbourne Park examination was far from over though, sent straight back under the microscope in what threatened to be a flashpoint game of the match when, on crucial points at 15-30 and 30-40 down, he produced thundering aces to save himself from disaster.
The number three and four-ranked players in the world remained neck and neck until, just as in the previous set, Sinner earned himself a break point in the 10th game and converted after pouncing on a Medvedev second serve.
Suddenly Sinner cut the figure of a winner, charging around the court between points with steely eyes that meant business, with Medvedev faltering on the other side of the net.
“There are two very different pieces of body language out on court now. Sinner is shoulders back, striding; his opponent is labouring, shoulders in a slump, heads slightly tilted,” Woodbrisde said.
Having broken the all-time record for the longest amount of time spend on court during a grand slam tournament, the usually uber-durable Medvedev suddenly looked a shell of himself, going down a break that eventually cost him the championship.
In Medvedev’s 31st and final set for the tournament — another all-time grand slam record — Sinner held his next two service games to win the set, 6-3, and claim his first major title.
Sinner becomes the youngest Australian Open champion since Djokovic (20) in 2008, and just the third Italian male to win a grand slam.