Sinner stuns deflated Djoker in Aus Open upset
DESPITE the respective formlines during the Australian Open suggesting an upset could be on the cards, few could believe what had taken place after just 73 minutes on court yesterday afternoon. The greatest Australian Open champion of all time – Novak Djokovic – gunning for his 11th title won just three games in two sets at the hands of a rampaging Jannik Sinner.
The Italian was up 6-1 6-2 and for many tennis fans, it was hard to fathom. The king of Melbourne Park was being delivered a display of tennis he so often produced against opponents on Rod Laver Arena. Though there was always going to be a twist – such as Djokovic grinding out one of his famous tiebreakers – Sinner held his nerve in the fourth set to whack home some incredible winners and post a 6-1 6-2 6-7 6-3 victory in three hours and 22 minutes.
The sheer numbers regarding the result leapt off the page like few others. It was the first time in Grand Slam history that Djokovic won just three games in his first two sets and it was the first time the Serbian star had dropped a set 6-1 at Melbourne Park – and has only done so once in his Grand Slam career way back at the 2005 US Open.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling was the fact Djokovic did not create a break point opportunity in a fully completed match. Over his two decades in tennis, the world number one has been able to create at least one break point opportunity in a completed match, but against Sinner, he could not get that opportunity as the Italian won 83 and 63 per cent of his points off his first and second serve respectively.
Though Sinner’s first serve percentage was down at 58 per cent, he still produced nine aces among 31 winners, yet only 28 unforced errors. Usually Djokovic is one to make opponent unnecessarily make errors, but in yesterday’s semi-final, the tables had turned and instead it was the top seed hitting 54 unforced errors to just 32 winners.
He was broken five times and could only win 25 per cent of his receiving points, while his first serve points won – usually in the 80s – was down at 67 per cent. Djokovic did not hold any punches when describing his performance.
“He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely today,” Djokovic said post-match. “Look, I was, in a way, shocked with my level, you know, 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, you know, credit to him for doing everything better than me in every aspect of the game.”
The mood in the Sinner camp was unsurprisingly the complete opposite, with the Italian moving through to his first ever Grand Slam final.
“Awesome. I don’t know what to say really. I came here after a couple of exhibition matches at Kooyong and came here as prepared as possible,” Sinner said. “The confidence from end of last year has for sure kept the belief that I can play against the best players in the world and I’m really happy that I can play Sunday my first [Grand Slam] final.”
Sinner is becoming a problem for Djokovic, having now beaten him three times in the past four meetings. The Italian won at the ATP Finals, Davis Cup and now at Grand Slam level. The only other two players to achieve that feat in history are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Magical Medvedev completes five-set comeback to reach Grand Slam decider
IT was a Grand Slam semi-final fit for a king, and while few thought the night session could deliver what the day had, they were proved wrong as Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev engaged in a five-set, four-hour marathon. In the end, it was the third seeded Russian who stepped up, coming back from two sets to one down to defeat the sixth seeded German, 5-7 3-6 7-6 7-6 6-3.
Zverev started the match as the better of the two, winning the opening set 7-5 with a crucial break, then going to another level to produce a two sets to love lead. The only other time Zverev had lost from that position was in the 2020 US Open final, where with match points, he bowed out to Dominic Thiem in five sets.
Unfortunately for the German, history would repeat in the all-important Australian Open semi-final, as Medvedev worked his way back in, almost losing in the third, and then fourth set tiebreakers, but finding a way. Incredibly, the fourth set tiebreaker saw the Russian produce his first double fault of the match, handing Zverev two serves at 5-4 and almost an air of inevitability rose around the stadium considering how well the sixth seed had served.
However a more conservative first serve from Zverev saw Medvedev get it back on serve, then a shank drop shot that hit racquet frame and land over the net for a winner suddenly handed the Russian set point. Producing a ripping first serve, Medvedev took out the set and sent the match to a fifth with the crowd not quite sure what they had just witnessed.
From the jaws of defeat, Medvedev had salvaged the match, and then, when he got going midway through the fifth, broke Zverev twice to secure the outstanding five-set win in four hours and 18 minutes.
“I was a little bit lost but then in the third set I kept saying to myself, ‘if I lose this match then I want to be proud of myself’,” Medvedev said post-match.
“If I lose, I lose, but I won so I am very proud.
“In the third set I felt like I was tired physically. I knew I couldn’t run for 40 shots like in the first set, so I said ‘let’s get more aggressive’.