Jannik Sinner beats Daniil Medvedev to win Australian Open, his first Grand Slam title

They are in a hurry, this younger cohort of tennis stars, with no interest in waiting their turn to take over their sport, or respecting their elders. 

On a warm Sunday evening in Rod Laver Arena, Jannik Sinner, the 22-year-old fast-rising star from Italy became the latest member of the next generation to win a Grand Slam title, rising from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to win his first Australian Open title in his maiden tilt in one of the game’s ultimate showdowns. In doing so, he became only the second U23 player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam final from two sets down, after Bjorn Borg (Roland-Garros 1974). He is only the eighth to do it at all.

Daniil Medvedev was appearing in his sixth Grand Slam final and has now lost five of them (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Coming into the final Medvedev did not have a lot to pin his hopes on against Sinner, the 22-year-old long touted for greatness whose speed and power appeared to be coming together at just the right time. Medvedev had lost his past three matches against Sinner. He’d spent some 20 hours on the court, including two five-set marathons, one of which ended at 3:40 in the morning during the first week. Sinner had blazed through his draw, including a stunning beatdown of the 10-time champion, Novak Djokovic, in the semifinals.  

But Medvedev walked onto the court with one glaring advantage. He had been on this stage before. This was his third Australian Open final and his sixth time playing for a Grand Slam title. It was Sinner’s first, and for the first two sets he played like it — tight in his body language, hesitant in his movement, tentative in his shotmaking, a shadow of the player he’d been during the previous two weeks.

Scrambling to stay in the match in the third set, Sinner took advantage of a tiring Medvedev to cut his deficit as Rod Laver Arena came live for the first time all night — the screaming Italians in the crowd finally had something to scream about. Suddenly Medvedev looked like he was having visions of the 2022 final, when he coughed up a two-set lead to that irresistible tennis force, a surging Rafael Nadal. 

The Sinner surge on Sunday night was something else. 

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First he stopped making errors on basic shots, especially on his backhand, which Medvedev started testing in the first game and never stopped. Then he began fighting his way into points on Medvedev’s serve, forcing Medvedev to dip further into his energy reserves that were low to start with after two weeks of marathon matches. 

And then, with the score finally even once more for the first time in nearly three hours, Sinner finally began firing the lasers from the baseline that had taken down his six previous opponents, including arguably the greatest of all time. 

The decisive break came in the sixth game of the fifth set with a pattern that had become all too familiar for Medvedev during the past hour. Sinner jumped on his softening second serve to push him back into the court and two shots later laced a cross-court forehand that Medvedev could do nothing with but watch it whizz by. 

Three games later, Sinner became the first Italian man to win the Australian Open in the modern era of tennis, finishing it off with one last forehand blast down the line and collapsing on his back as he watched it sear through the back of the court. Medvedev became the first man to lose a two-set lead in a Grand Slam final twice.

(Top photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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