Tennis: Sinner ends Djokovic Grand Slam history bid at Australian Open

AFP , Friday 26 Jan 2024

Jannik Sinner ended Novak Djokovic's bid for a record 25th Grand Slam title on Friday, snapping the Serb's astonishing 33-match winning run at Melbourne Park to reach his first major final.

Jannik Sinner
Italy s Jannik Sinner is through to his first Grand Slam final. AFP


The Italian fourth seed was unfazed by dropping his first set of the tournament against the king of Rod Laver Arena, winning the semi-final 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

He will face either Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev or German sixth seed Alexander Zverev in Sunday's title match, meaning there will be a new name on the trophy.

Ten-time champion Djokovic fought off a match point in the third-set tie-break but notched up 54 errors and failed to create a single break point in an sub-par display by his stellar standards.

"It was a very tough match," said Sinner. "I started off really well. He missed in the first two sets. I felt like he was not feeling that great on court so I just tried to keep pushing.

"Then in the third set I had match point and I missed the forehand but this is tennis. I just tried to be ready for the next set, which I started off really well."

Sinner, 22, said he felt he had learned from defeat to Djokovic in last year's Wimbledon semi-finals -- the furthest he had previously gone at a Grand Slam -- and had been looking forward to the match.

"I think we play really similar -- you have to return as many balls as possible, he's such an incredible server," he said. "So I was just trying to push him around a little bit -- I'm not going to tell you the tactics."

Djokovic record bid

Djokovic, who had not tasted defeat at the Australian Open since 2018, lacked his usual metronomic consistency as the super-cool Sinner raced into a 3-0 lead.

The Italian broke again in the sixth game and seized the first set when Djokovic went long with a forehand.

The decibel count on centre court rose at the start of the second set and the 36-year-old Djokovic settled himself with a convincing hold.

But his error count continued to mount and Sinner, who had beaten Djokovic in two of their previous three encounters, broke in the third game to establish a vice-like grip on the match.

Djokovic urged the crowd to come to his aid and cries of "Nole" rang around the packed stadium but he was broken again and slipped two sets down.

The match was paused at 5-5, 40-40 in the third set as medical staff treated a fan in the crowd but Djokovic brushed off the interruption to hold serve and send it to a tie-break.

The Serb nudged ahead but Sinner came back to earn his first match point, only to dump a forehand into the net.

Djokovic made no mistake when presented with his chance to seal the set, raising a clenched fist to the crowd.

But the Serbian's serve came under renewed pressure again in the fourth set and he cracked to give Sinner a 3-1 lead.

The Italian kept his nerve and forged a second match point, 55 minutes after his first, hitting a forehand winner to earn victory after three hours and 22 minutes and end an era at Melbourne Park.

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