Comeback king Jannik Sinner denies Daniil Medvedev to claim Australian Open crown

Jonathan Davies in Australian Open 28 Jan 2024
Sinner recovered from two sets down to claim his first major title (Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo)

Jannik Sinner claimed his first major title after recovering from two sets down to stun Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling Australian Open final.

The world number four produced an inspired turnaround after a slow start to his first grand slam showpiece to prevail 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

The 22-year-old is the youngest winner of this event since Novak Djokovic, who he conquered in the semi-finals, in 2008, as well as the first victor from outside tennis’ ‘big three’ for 10 years.

He also became the first Italian champion in Melbourne, and only the second male at a slam in the Open Era after Adriano Panatta’s triumph at the 1976 French Open.

Meanwhile, it was third time unlucky for Medvedev, who was also a beaten finalist here in 2021 and 2022.

The world number three also became the first player to lose multiple major finals from two sets up, having suffered the same fate against Rafael Nadal two years ago.

Fresh from ending 10-time champion Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak at the Australian Open – and denying him a record-breaking 25th major title – Sinner arrived in the final having lost just two of 88 service games.

However, an aggressive start from an inspired Medvedev saw him broken twice in the opening set, with the third seed enjoying well over 85 per cent of success on his first serve as he drew first blood.

Appearing in his sixth major final – all of which have been on hard courts – the 2021 US Open champion had lost just once in 51 matches on surface at slams when winning the opening set.

Having come through three deciding sets on the way to this showpiece – doing so against Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals and recovering from two down to deny Emil Ruusuvuori and Alexander Zverev – he was in no mood for hanging around.

His purposeful display continued as he picked up from where he left off in the second set, winning 12 successive points on serve and breaking twice to soar into a 5-1 lead.

Sinner, who had dropped just one set on the way to his first major final, rallied, but it proved in vein with Medvedev going two to the good.

Only once before in his career had the Italian recovered from two sets down, doing so against Marton Fucsovics in last year’s Australian Open.

The 22-year-old did well to hold his nerve during a tense third set with a crucial break in game 10 to keep the final alive. He then saved break point in game seven of the fourth, before Medvedev sent a forehand long in the 10th game to take the contest the distance.

That meant a record-equalling 35th five-set match at this tournament – matching the 1983 US Open for the most at a single slam in the Open Era.

Medvedev was also breaking records. His 31st set of the tournament was the most at a single slam by any player in the Open Era. He subsequently surpassed 24 hours on court this fortnight, more than any player previously at this event.

Although, his exertions appeared to be catching up with him as Sinner, who had spent five less hours on court, began to take charge.

The crucial moment came in game six of the decider with the Italian’s stunning backhand pass at 15-0 paving the way for a timely break, before coming through an epic 27-shot rally with one of many ferocious forehands on the way to holding in the next and standing on the brink of major glory.

Medvedev held to 15 to stay alive, but it was only momentarily as Sinner successfully served out, sealing victory with yet another crunching forehand.

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