Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Sinner stages great escape to pip Medvedev to Australian Open trophy

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Jannik Sinner produced a comeback for the ages to outlast Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and 6-3 in a high-quality final and win his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday, becoming the new King of Melbourne Park.

Sinner became the first Australian champion for a decade not to be named Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer in the first men’s title clash at Rod Laver Arena 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 to end the Serbian’s long reign.

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.


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