MELBOURNE, Australia — Jannik Sinner rallied from two sets down to take the Australian Open final from Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday and clinch his first Grand Slam title.
The 22-year-old Sinner was playing in a major final for the first time and got there by ending Novak Djokovic’s long domination of the tournament in a semifinal upset.
He’s the first Italian to win the Australian Open title in what could be a generational shift in tennis.
For 2021 U.S. Open champion Medvedev, the loss was his fifth in six major finals. The third-seeded Medvedev set a record with his fourth five-set match of the tournament and time on court at a major in the Open era, his 24 hours and 17 minutes surpassing Carlos Alcaraz’s 23:40 at the 2022 U.S. Open.
Medvedev lost back-to-back finals here to Djokovic in 2021 and to Rafael Nadal — after holding a two-set lead — the following year. He won three five-set matches to reach the championship match this time and had two comebacks from two sets down. Sinner only dropped one set through six rounds — in a third-set tiebreaker against Djokovic — until he lost two straight to Medvedev.
It wasn’t until a break in the sixth game of the fifth set that he really had a full grip on his first Grand Slam title.
Medvedev started like a man who wanted to win quickly, after playing three five-set matches just to reach his sixth Grand Slam final.
In two of those — a second-round win over Emil Ruusuvuori that finished at almost 4 in the morning, and a 4-hour, 18-minute semifinal win over No. 6 Alexander Zverev — he had to come back from two sets down. Nobody had done that on the way to an Australian Open final since Pete Sampras in 1995.
The 27-year-old Russian had spent 20 hours and 33 minutes on court through six rounds. That was almost six hours longer than Sinner took to reach the final.
Sinner didn’t give Djokovic a look at a breakpoint as he ended the 10-time Australian Open champion’s 33-match unbeaten streak at Melbourne Park dating to 2018.
Against Medvedev, though, he was in trouble early. Medvedev broke in the third game and took the first set in 36 minutes.
He had two more service breaks in the fourth and sixth games of the second set but was broken himself at 5-1 trying to serve it out. He was successful next try.
The third set went with serve until the 10th game, when Medvedev was a point from leveling at 5-5 until three forehand errors gave Sinner the set, and the momentum.
He won the fourth set, again with a service break in the 10th game, recovering immediately to win three points after mis-hitting a forehand so far out that it shocked the Rod Laver Arena crowd.
And so the tournament equaled a Grand Slam Open era record set at the 1983 U.S. Open with a 35th match going to five sets.
In the sixth game of the fifth set, Sinner had triple breakpoint against a fatiguing Medvedev. He missed with his first chance but converted with his next, a forehand winner, for a 4-2 lead. From there, he didn’t give Medvedev another chance.
Medvedev had faced either Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in all five of his previous major finals. He beat Djokovic to win the 2021 U.S. Open title but lost all the others, including the 2021 final in Australia to Djokovic and the 2022 final — after taking the first two sets — against Nadal.
He changed up his usual style, going to the net more regularly in the first two sets and standing closer to the baseline to receive serve than he has done recently.
Medvedev has been saying through the tournament that he has more stamina than he used to, and is mentally stronger in the tough five-setters. He needed to be.
Medvedev won his first six matches against Sinner, but has now lost four straight.