A long marathon then deliverance. Jannik Sinner will long remember his entry into the list of Grand Slam winners. In a fight lasting more than three hours and forty-five minutes, the Italian came back from two sets to win against the Russian Daniil Medvedev (3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3) in the final of the Australian Open tennis tournament, Sunday January 28. The two men engaged in an epic standoff, ending with a haggard face and short of breath.

Could it be otherwise in a tournament peppered with surprises, with erratic match endings and reversals worthy of a Netflix series? Before appearing in the final, Medvedev had already spent twenty hours and thirty-three minutes of toil on the courts, pushed to the 4th set by the Frenchman Térence Atmane and the Portuguese Nuno Borges, and in the 5th set by the Finnish Emil Ruusuvuori , the Pole Hubert Hurkacz and the German Alexander Zverev. That’s almost six hours more than his opponent. Jannik Sinner, for his part, created a surprise by knocking down the big favorite, ten times winner in Melbourne, the Serbian Novak Djokovic, in the semi-final (6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3).

For the first time since 2005, the Australian Open final took place without the presence of one of the members of the “Big Three”: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. An opportunity for Medvedev, who was playing his fifth Grand Slam final, his third on the Rod Laver Arena after that of 2021 – he was beaten by Novak Djokovic – and that of 2022 – he was beaten by Nadal while he was leading two sets to nothing. This time, it was a 22-year-old Italian, a neophyte at this stage of competition, who blocked his path.

The Italian has come a long way

Fixed gaze and maximum concentration, Daniil Medvedev seemed untouchable for a long time in this final, just tactically, physically formidable. Cornering his opponent at the baseline, the Russian took advantage of Jannik Sinner’s nervousness to quickly make the break in the first set (1-2), before confirming with a shutout completed on an authoritarian ace.

Under a serene face, diametrically distinct from the one we had seen in the semi-final against Zverev, he widened the gap (six aces in four service games), once again confirming his break with a shutout in the second round (4-1). Nothing seemed to be able to deprive the Russian of a first coronation in Melbourne… That’s not knowing tennis well.

The beginnings of the Italian’s start, combined with the first signs of fatigue from the Russian, marked the end of the second set, where Sinner offered himself a break point to return to 5-4. Lost, but confidence then changed sides. In a contested third act, the Russian could have afforded a majestic final sprint, leading the game to 4-4, but a first break point obtained by the Italian changed the match.

Penalized by his numerous unforced errors, physically blunted, the finalist of the 2021 and 2022 editions found himself embroiled in a fifth set which did not bode well. Although he was playing his first Major final, Jannik Sinner remained on a series of three straight victories against his opponent in Beijing, Vienna and the Masters. Physically liberated in his races, aware that time was on his side, the Italian took the lead.

“I hope you can lift this trophy too.”

With a final lightning forehand, Jannik Sinner completed his takeover. He offered Italy a first Grand Slam title since Adriano Panatta’s coronation at Roland Garros in 1976. He also became the youngest winner of the Australian Open since Novak Djokovic in 2008.

“It was a huge tournament for me, I want to thank everyone,” explained the world number 4 after his coronation. The support was crazy during those two weeks, I felt at home, there were 15,000 people but I felt like there were a lot more. »

The young man also paid tribute to his opponent: “Daniil, we played a lot of finals against each other and in every match you made me a much better player, you were incredible the whole tournament, you were running on each ball. I hope you can lift this trophy too and I wish you the best for the rest of the season. »

The Russian, hollow cheeks, marked face, praised the performance of his tormentor of the day. “Congratulations, you deserve this trophy, you have raised your level even further (…) it will probably not be your last Grand Slam,” said the Russian. Before slipping all the same: “I hope the next one will be for me. »