AO 2024 – Day 13: "Flawless" Sinner dethrones Djokovic

The Italian ventured into his first Grand Slam final, where he'll meet 'never say die' Daniil Medvedev at Melbourne Park.

Jannik Sinner / Demi-finales Open d'Australie 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

128 men have been whittled down to two supreme athletes in the men's draw at Australian Open 2024.

The defending champion is out, a new name will be written onto the Roll of Honour. Here is the tale of the tape from a memorable day Down Under…

Sinner pulls off the unthinkable

The first man to defeat Novak Djokovic in 11 semi-finals at Melbourne Park, the first man to defeat the world No.1 at his most successful major in 2195 days.

Jannik Sinner has claimed a sensational 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 triumph to snap 10-time champion Djokovic's 33-match winning streak at the Australian Open.

The Italian launched into his first Grand Slam final, where he'll take on 2021-22 runner-up Daniil Medvedev.

"Yeah, for sure," declared the 22-year-old, asked if that’s his biggest career achievement. "It was a very, very tough match. 

"I realised, especially the first sets, he was not playing that great, but I tried to have the intensity as high as possible, and I took the chances.

"I lost to him in the semis at Wimbledon last year and I think I learned a lot from that. It's all part of the process.

"I'm really happy that I can play my first final and then let's see how it goes. I will come here with a smile and I try my best. It’s a pleasure to be here and they call it the 'Happy Slam' for a reason." 

Arriving on court without dropping a set all fortnight, the No.4 seed made a red-hot start, firing with intensity.

It took Djokovic 21 minutes to even get a game on the scoreboard, appearing off balance and perplexed by his rare lack of answers, as the ruthless Italian raced two sets ahead with minimal resistance.

The Serbian's vocal fans in the stands could take comfort from Djokovic's gladiatorial eight wins from two sets down, including one versus Sinner at Wimbledon 2022.

The 24-time major winner incrementally found his range to finally pose questions to Sinner, with both superstars avoiding too much adversity until a tie-break was required.

From 2-4 down, Sinner dialled in some cannonball strokes to head 5-4 up and moments later had his first match point. A netted forehand proved costly as the defending champion stole away three points on the bounce to ignite another comeback.

The crunch moment came at 2-1, the 22-year-old chased down a drop shot, angling a dinked forehand full of finesse to provide the catalyst to break from 40-0 down.

There was time for Sinner to swat a backhand around the net post and 55 minutes after his first, Sinner converted match point to close out a seismic triumph.

Sinner has now mastered three of his past four battles with Djokovic, the strongest indicator that the world No.4 has transformed from dark horse into a true Grand Slam contender.

"Obviously, it means so much to me to beat Novak here in Melbourne, but in the other way, I know that the tournament is not over," maintained the No.4 seed.

"It's different emotions, because the final is always different. Doesn't really matter how big the tournament is. So, I'm looking forward for Sunday, and let's see what's coming."

Not the beginning of the end for Nole

To the credit of Sinner's exceptional serving at the key moments, Djokovic failed to chalk up a single break point for the first time ever in a completed Grand Slam match.

The 36-year-old, who last suffered defeat in Melbourne facing Hyeon Chung in 2018, was dejected by his lacklustre showing by his hall-of-fame standards. 

"I was shocked with my level, there's not much I was doing right in the first two sets," said the world No.1.

"I guess this is one of the worst Grand Slam matches I've ever played… But at the same time, credit to him for doing everything better than me, in every aspect of the game. He just played a flawless match."

The defiant 24-time major winner quickly shut down any talk of his demise.

"I still have high hopes for other slams, Olympics, and whatever tournaments that I'll play," added the Serbian.

"Doesn't necessarily mean that it's beginning of the end, as some people like to call it. It's just the beginning of the season."

Medvedev back from the brink again

For the fourth time in his captivating career, Daniil Medvedev has recovered from two sets down to win on the Grand Slam stage.

Rewind to the second round and the world No.3 pulled off the feat against Emil Ruusuvuori, and back on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev reeled in No.6 seed Alexander Zverev 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-3.

The rallies tallied above 50 shots at points, it was a lung-bursting battle of will with numerous moments of magic sprinkled in.

"I was a little bit lost," admitted the 27-year-old, improving his rivalry record with the German to 12-7.

"But during the third set, I started saying to myself that if I lose this match, I just want to be proud of myself. I want to fight till the end, for every point, and if I lose, I lose. I managed to win so I'm very proud.

"The tie-breaks were pretty unbelievable. I got a bit lucky with the 5-5 return (miscued slice forehand) in the second tie-break, but that's tennis. Sometimes you need to be lucky and today's my day."

Another miracle escape catapults the US Open 2021 champion into his third final at Melbourne Park.

He's had to go the long road, compiling an energy-zapping 20 hours and 33 minutes on court across the six marathon matches.

"Never have I made it this tough," insisted Medvedev. "And happy about it. Because before my statistics in five sets was not good. I one month ago I wanted to change a little bit to try to be even more strong mentally, better focus. I'm far from perfect, but I'm trying."

Time to recover, Medvedev knows he has an almighty test in the final over the net from Sinner.

"It would mean a lot. I would say this court is not my best court in terms of my performance and my actual self esteem," added the 27-year-old.

"That's why many times I had to dig deep during this tournament. I'm going to be the happiest man on the planet. But for this I need to play pretty well and win three sets on Sunday."