Jannik Sinner overcame a two-set deficit to defeat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 in a thrilling five-set final and claim the men’s Australian Open title on Sunday, becoming the first Italian man to win a grand slam since 1976.
The 22-year-old’s remarkable comeback capped off a special tournament for Sinner, one in which he had defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals on route to his first-ever grand slam final and ended with his maiden major title.
Such drama provided a fitting finale for a tournament which has featured an incredible 35 five-set thrillers, equaling the Open Era record for any grand slam, as Medvedev raced to a two-set lead, initially heaping pressure on the young Italian who was left defending from every corner of the court in the wake of the No. 3 seed’s precise, aggressive approach.
But, as the match went on, Sinner fought back, readjusted his own tactics and began outlasting his opponent during longer rallies. Suddenly, he had won the third set, breaking Medvedev for the first time as the Russian served to stay in the set and the tide began to shift.
That momentum carried Sinner through the fourth and fifth sets as he overturned the deficit and became the youngest male player to win the Australian Open since 2008, as well as just the third Italian man to ever win a grand slam.
“I’m so proud. I don’t know whats going on really,” Sinner told Eurosport afterwards. “It was a tough match. He started off really well, he moved me around the court, I couldn’t make my gameplan work.
“But then somehow in the third set, I was looking for the small chances which I used and then at some point, the match changed and I’m really happy how I reacted. Now there are so many emotions, I think I have to sit down and process it but obviously an unbelievable feeling.”
For Medvedev, it was a cruel echo of the 2022 Australian Open final he lost to Rafael Nadal when he had once again let a two-set lead slip. Following his defeat against Sinner, the 27-year-old made some unwanted history by becoming the first player in the Open Era to lose multiple grand slam finals in such fashion.
It had been a long, gruelling route for him to even reach the final, playing in three five-set epics and spending almost 21 hours out on the court before Sunday’s clash with Sinner and, as the match crept into its closing stages, that fatigue began to show.
A five-set thriller
After losing two Australian Open finals before, against Novak Djokovic in 2021 and Rafael Nadal in 2022, there was a determined intensity to Medvedev’s game during the opening two sets.
He broke Sinner early on to take a 2-1 lead in the first set, converting his second break point when the Italian hesitated at the net and snatched at a passing shot, before breaking him again to win the set.
While Sinner was appearing in his first ever grand slam final, Medvedev is already a grand slam champion who was playing in his fourth major final and that disparity in experience initally showed as the Russian controlled the pace of the match with 14 winners and five aces in the first set.
Medvedev continued pressurizing Sinner at the beginning of the second, forcing him to serve out a marathon game featuring five deuces but, somehow, the young Italian held out before conceding the break in his next service game.
He went a double break down shortly afterwards and though he broke back, Medvedev wrapped up the second set, seemingly placing one hand on the trophy.
The third set was more evenly-matched, remaining resolutely on serve until Sinner broke Medvedev as he served to stay in the set, beginning his epic comeback.
And momentum continued to swing towards Sinner as he engineered a break point during each of Medvedev’s first two service games at the beginning of the fourth set, though the Russian’s scrambled defense initially held out.
Medvedev also had chances to land a decisive blow, bringing up a break point with Sinner serving and the set poised at 3-3, but the Italian fired off an ace to allay any danger.
And Sinner leveled the match soon afterwards, once again breaking Medvedev as he served to stay in the set, prompting roars from the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena.
“In my head,” Sinner told Eurosport afterwards, “I knew [Medvedev] had played so many hours on the court and the longer the match goes on, I knew that I might be the favorite and I think that today was very important.”
As Medvedev tired, Sinner took control of the match and sealed a crucial break point early in the fifth set with a crosscourt forehand winner before completing his remarkable comeback with a forehand down the line, falling to the floor immediately afterwards to celebrate a stunning maiden grand slam title.
With his victory, Sinner joins the ranks of Italy’s grand slam winning players – alongside Nicola Pietrangeli and Adriano Panatta.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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