The 22-year-old Sinner will now contest the first grand slam final of his career having ended Djokovic’s bid for an 11th title in Melbourne.
It also means that Djokovic’s pursuit of an outright record 25th grand slam title is put on hold after he was outplayed by the Italian across their three hour, 22-minute contest.
Sinner, who dropped his first set of the tournament in Friday’s semifinal, is the youngest male finalist at the Australian Open since Djokovic won the title in 2008 and will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s showpiece.
“It was a very, very tough match,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “I started off really well. He missed for two sets, I felt like he was not feeling that great on court, so I just tried to keep pushing.”
You have to go all the way back to his fourth-round defeat against Chung Hyeon in 2018 for the previous time that Djokovic lost in Melbourne – 33 matches ago.
‘Nole’ later gave a very frank assessment of his performance against Sinner, which was also his first semifinal defeat at the Australian Open.
“He outplayed me completely today,” Djokovic told reporters. “Look, I was, in a way, shocked with my level, in a bad way. There was not much I was doing right in the first two sets.
“I guess this is one of the worst grand slam matches I’ve ever played – at least that I remember. Not a very pleasant feeling playing this way. But at the same time, credit to him for doing everything better than me in every aspect of the game.”
Djokovic was uncharacteristically sloppy in the opening exchanges and produced 29 unforced errors across the first two sets. Sinner, by contrast, had only eight, and his accuracy and aggression earned him a 2-0 lead in just an hour and 13 minutes.
Tightening his game in the third set, Djokovic looked for a foothold in the contest but was unable to find an opening on Sinner’s serve. Indeed, this was the first time in his career that Djokovic failed to produce a break-point chance in a completed grand slam match, according to Opta.
After the third set remained on serve, Sinner engineered a match point in the tie-break but was unable to take advantage as he netted a forehand.
Instead, Djokovic won the next three points, conjuring flashbacks to the 2022 Wimbledon quarterfinal when the Serb came back from 2-0 down to win.
But there was to be no repeat of those heroics on this occasion. Djokovic was broken at 2-1 in the fourth set having held a 40-0 lead, and from there, Sinner was always in control and could see out the biggest victory of his career to date.
He has now beaten Djokovic in three of their last four matches dating back to November.
“I was looking forward to this match, it’s always nice to have this kind of player you can learn from,” Sinner said. “I lost last year [against Djokovic] in the semis in Wimbledon. I think I learned a lot from that; it’s all part of the process.”
Medvedev comes back to win in five sets
In Friday’s other semifinal, Medvedev came from two sets down to defeat Germany’s Alexander Zverev 5-7 3-6 7-6(7-4) 7-6(7-5) 6-3 in a marathon contest.
The third seed will contest his sixth grand slam final against Sinner having endured a difficult path to this point, winning in five sets on three occasions.
The four-hour, 18-minute match against Zverev was Medvedev’s second-longest of the tournament so far, and it was an encounter filled with brutal, energy-sapping rallies, particularly in the opening stages.
He was on the back foot throughout the semifinal, coming from 4-1 down in the first set before being broken late on, then being outplayed in the second set as Zverev upped his game.
But Medvedev found a way to stay in the match through the next two sets, winning both in tie-breaks as neither player could break the other’s serve.
Securing the crucial break at 2-2 in the fifth set, Medvedev then broke Zverev again at 5-3 to set up a third final in Melbourne.
“I was a little bit lost, but during the third set, I started saying to myself, ‘If I lose this match, I just want to be proud of myself, I want to fight till the end, fight for every point, and if I lose I lose,’” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “I managed to win, so I’m very proud.”
The 27-year-old owns a 6-3 advantage in his head-to-head against Sinner, but the latter enters the match the fresher of the two having won the majority of his matches in three sets.
To make the stakes even higher, there will also be a first-time Australian Open champion crowned in Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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