'I like to dance in the pressure storm', says Sinner after epic fightback to win Australian Open

Italian becomes the youngest player to win the Melbourne men's title since Novak Djokovic in 2008, earns praise from Italian PM

By Agencies

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Italy's Jannik Sinner celebrates with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the men's singles final at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday. - AFP
Italy's Jannik Sinner celebrates with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the men's singles final at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday. - AFP

Published: Sun 28 Jan 2024, 8:42 PM

Jannik Sinner said he was ready for the pressure and expectation that came with being a Grand Slam champion after becoming the first Italian to win the Australian Open by beating Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday.

Being forced to come from two sets down in a first Grand Slam final would test the nerves of any player but the 22-year-old dealt with the pressure in the ice-cool manner with which he has met all success, and failure, over his young career.

"There is always pressure but the pressure is something good. You have to take it in a good way. It's a privilege, no?" he said after his 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over the Russian third seed.

Jannik Sinner of Italy celebrates after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the Australian Open. - AP
Jannik Sinner of Italy celebrates after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the Australian Open. - AP

"So yes, I like to dance in the pressure storm. I don't know how to say. Like me personally, I like it, because that's where most of the time I bring out my best tennis," he added.

"I'm also quite relaxed on this occasion, because I always try to enjoy being on court."

Sinner had been widely tipped as a potential Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park this year after finishing last season as the hottest player on the ATP Tour.

He followed that by leading Italy to their first Davis Cup title in late November and on Sunday Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was quick to offer her congratulations.

"Jannik Sinner writes a new page of history today that makes us proud," she wrote on social media. "For the first time, Italy wins the Australian slam. A memorable feat worthy of a true champion."

Sinner said representing Italy was perhaps the most important part of his triumph.

"Being able to make them happy today, because I feel like... they push me also, that I can believe in myself and then having so much support, it's amazing," he said.

“It's been a hell of a journey," the 22-year-old Sinner said, wiping his long, orange fringe out of his eyes, “even though I'm only 22.”

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.

He's also the first in the Open era to lose two Grand Slam finals in five sets after taking a 2-0 lead.

Medvedev lost back-to-back Australian Open finals — 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 year — his sixth Grand Slam final.

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 all that time spent on the court.

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.

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.

“I want to congratulate Jannik because today you showed it again why you deserve it,” Medvedev said. “Probably that’s not your last Grand Slam, but I hope I can try to get the next one if you play in the final."

Medvedev also sent a message to his family and supporters.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t make it today, but I’m going to try to make it work next time for you,” he said. “It always hurts to lose in the final, but probably being in the final is better than losing before.


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