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Sinner stages epic fightback to win Australian Open

By AFP - Jan 28,2024 - Last updated at Jan 28,2024

Italy’s Jannik Sinner (left) and runner-up Russia’s Daniil Medvedev pose for the photos with former tennis player Jim Courier(centre) after their men’s singles final match on day 15 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Sunday (AFP photo)

MELBOURNE — Jannik Sinner stormed back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in an energy-sapping five-set Australian Open final on Sunday, claiming his first Grand Slam title.

The Italian fourth seed had no answer to the Russian’s aggression in the first two sets but dug deep to win 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 44 minutes.

He collapsed to the floor before returning to his feet to savour his moment on Rod Laver Arena, climbing into his box to hug coaches Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill.

Sinner thundered 14 aces, hit 50 winners and broke Medvedev’s serve four times to become the first Italian champion in the tournament’s history.

The 22-year-old is the first Italian man to win a Slam since Adriano Panatta in 1976 and the youngest man to win the Australian Open since Novak Djokovic in 2008.

Sinner’s semifinal victory over 10-time winner Djokovic had guaranteed there would be a new name on the trophy.

But the result is a bitter blow for the third-ranked Russian, who also blew a two-set lead against Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final.

“I’m feeling great, I just have to process it all,” said Sinner. “It was a great match and a great opportunity and I took it in the right way.

“I’m happy. I think the best moment was when I went into the locker room to hug my people. They have made me feel so, so special and they also know the process behind it all. It’s a great, great moment for me.

“It’s been a hell of a journey till now, even if I am still only 22.”

Sinner admitted he had been forced to scramble for answers because Medvedev was “crushing” it in the first two sets.

“The match was going so fast and I had zero chances in the first two sets, but I was looking for any small chance and I managed to break him in the third set and that’s it,” he said.

Former US Open champion Medvedev, who has now lost five of his six finals in the majors, said Sinner deserved to win.

“You fought to the end and you managed to raise your level,” said the 27-year-old. “You and your team are doing an amazing job.

“I hope I can try to get the next one if we play in a final.”


Medvedev’s fast start 


The Russian, in his previous six matches, had spent nearly six hours longer on court than Sinner, who had only lost one set.

But, looking fresh, he was quickly into his stride, unsettling the usually calm Italian, who was unable to find any sort of rhythm.

Sinner, playing in his first Grand Slam final, had been broken just twice in the tournament before the final but Medvedev doubled that tally in the first set.

Sinner was again in deep trouble at the start of the second set, fending off multiple break points and pleading for backing from the crowd.

He survived that onslaught but was broken for a third time in the fourth game when a poor drop shot allowed the Russian to set up a winner.

Medvedev raced through his service game to love, giving Sinner no time to gather his thoughts.

He hit a fierce forehand to set up two more break points in the sixth game and Sinner went wide with a forehand to slip 5-1 down.

The Italian broke back immediately, but Medvedev snuffed out the mini-revival to surge into a two-set lead.

The third set was tighter until the decisive 10th game when Sinner, who did not face a break point in the set, pounced to break and close the gap.

The momentum was now all with the Italian and the tiring Medvedev, who required strapping for his foot, had to fight hard to hold early in the fourth set.

Sinner fired three aces to edge 4-3 ahead and broke in the 10th game when Medvedev fired long to take the match into a fifth set.

With the tension mounting, both players stayed solid on serve until the sixth game of the final set, when Medvedev dumped a backhand into the net to give Sinner three break points.

A forehand crosscourt winner gave the Italian the crucial break and he closed out on serve to earn the biggest win of his life.

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