Sinner storms back to beat Medvedev in Australian Open final

football28 January 2024 13:22| Ā© Reuters

Jannik Sinner capped off a fortnight of outstanding tennis with a comeback for the ages to outlast Daniil Medvedev and win his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday, becoming the new King of Melbourne Park.

With a 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 win, Sinner became the first Australian Open champion for a decade not named Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer in the first men's final since 2005 not to feature any of the "Big Three".

Italian Sinner had dominated the tournament en route to the final, with a thumping victory over holder Djokovic in the semi-finals, but he had to fight back from two sets down to clinch his first major title.

"We're trying to get better every day," the 22-year-old said of his team after becoming the youngest Melbourne Park champion since Djokovic in 2008.

"Even during the tournament we try to get stronger, trying to understand every situation a little bit better.

"I'm so glad to have you there supporting me, understanding me which sometimes is not easy because I'm still a little bit young sometimes. But it is what it is."

Third seed Medvedev came into the contest as the first man since Pete Sampras almost three decades ago to reach the final after multiple comebacks from two sets down and he made a fast start to ease through the opening set with a double break.

It was only the third and fourth times that the in-form Sinner had dropped his serve in the tournament and the 22-year-old appeared to be troubled by the flat trajectory of his opponent's shots early in the contest.

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

After wasting four opportunities to break in the second game, which had five deuces and lasted nearly 12 minutes, Medvedev, who also lost the 2021 final to Djokovic, 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.

Fourth seed Sinner grabbed a break back and nearly got another late in the second set as Medvedev showed some signs of frailty after more than 20 hours on court before Sunday but the Russian pushed himself on.

Sinner missed an easy 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 win the set, beginning his comeback in the clash which suddenly had a different feel to it.

The Italian 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 team.

It was a moment of heartbreak for former U.S. Open champion Medvedev, who lost the 2022 Melbourne final to Nadal after being two sets up and has now lost five of his six major title clashes.

"It's been honestly an amazing two weeks. It always hurts to lose in the final but probably being in the final is better than losing before," Medvedev said at the trophy ceremony.

"I always want to win but I guess I have to try harder next time. But I'm proud of myself, I'm going to try even harder next time."