Jannik Sinner claims first grand slam title as fightback downs Daniil Medvedev

By Sports Desk January 28, 2024

Jannik Sinner staged a brilliant fightback from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev and win his first grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Italian handed Novak Djokovic his first loss at Melbourne Park for six years in the semi-finals but looked like he would have to settle for the runners-up plate as Medvedev dominated the first half of the match.

Sinner was not finished, though, and he slowly began to take control with his huge groundstrokes, opening his grand slam account in stunning fashion with a 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory.

Earmarked as the man most likely to lead the game into its next era alongside Carlos Alcaraz, Sinner has decisively proved that he can be a force for years to come.

For Medvedev, though, this is a crushing blow, with the Russian now having won only one of six grand slam finals – at the US Open in 2021 – while this is the second time in three years he has led by two sets to love here only to lose.

The first of those came against Rafael Nadal in 2022 but, even without the Spaniard or Djokovic across the net in a final for the first time, he still could not claim the trophy.

It had been a tortuous path to get here for Medvedev, who recovered from two sets down to win against Emil Ruusuvuori at 3.39am in round two and Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, while also needing five sets to defeat Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight, spending more than 20 hours on court.

It had been almost 20 years since an Australian Open final did not feature one of Djokovic, Nadal or Roger Federer.

Sinner’s victory over Djokovic was a breakthrough moment for the 22-year-old but Medvedev immediately set about showing him that, for once, he carried the advantage of experience and knew just how to handle the occasion.

The Russian’s usual tactics involve standing several metres behind the baseline and using his long levers to form the human equivalent of a brick wall.

But here, whether necessitated by fatigue, a tactical switch or a combination of the two, Medvedev stepped straight in and began swinging.

Sinner had not faced a single break point against Djokovic, a first for the out-of-sorts Serbian in his grand slam career, but here he found himself 0-40 down in only his second service game, and Medvedev took his second chance.

Having lost his first six matches against the Russian, Sinner beat him three times in quick succession at the end of last season and went into the contest as the favourite having dropped only one set all fortnight.

He could not find a foothold in the match, though, Medvedev striking his groundstrokes with such crisp precision that Sinner, normally one of the most aggressive players in the game, was left scrambling to stay in rallies.

He got the crowd involved in the second game of the second set, saving four break points with some stellar defence, but Medvedev simply came at Sinner again and broke twice in succession to lead 5-1.

At last there were signs of life from the Italian when Medvedev served for the set, Sinner breaking back and then threatening to get on terms only to net a forehand on break point.

It offered Sinner some hope, though, and an even third set went his way when he forced a break of the Medvedev serve at 5-4, upping the pace on his groundstrokes and finally managing to hurt his opponent.

Medvedev had the scar tissue from the loss to Nadal two years ago in his mind and 23 hours of tennis in his legs, and he called the trainer for attention to his right foot after three games of the fourth set.

It was now very much Sinner forcing the pace, although a saved break point at 3-3 was a huge moment, and even more so when the fourth seed again found the breakthrough in the 10th game with huge hitting.

Medvedev headed off court to change but, having taken a long break at the end of the third set, he was not permitted extra time and was given a time violation for not being ready to start the deciding set.

Sinner knew this was his for the taking, and take it he did breaking for 4-2 before clinching the biggest win of his life in fitting fashion with a forehand winner down the line.

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