MELBOURNE, Australia — For close to two decades, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has showcased the blueprint for Australian Open success.
It’s been a combination of efficient, precise serving, error-free rallying and spirit-crushing defense, the ability to retrieve ball after ball — and then some. Add in the uncanny knack of being able to produce otherworldly tennis in the pressure moments, as well as just a pinch of adversity, and you’ve got an amalgamation of tennis excellence that’s led Djokovic to a record 10 titles at Melbourne Park.
The Djokovic recipe for success is no secret, but try as they might, nobody else had managed to grasp the concept and check every one of those boxes throughout the marathon two-week event. At least until now.
Jannik Sinner‘s run to the Australian Open title was reminiscent of many of those successful Djokovic campaigns. There were extended periods of dominance. There were nerves of steel. And in the final against Daniil Medvedev, there’s no denying there was adversity, Sinner having to fight and scrap from two sets down to clinch his first major title 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
Sinner finished the tournament as he started it — striking the ball with confidence from behind the baseline with almost robotic precision. On championship point, he rocketed a forehand down the line, landing it inches inside the baseline before falling to the court in jubilation.
“The process and the hard work occasionally pays off,” Sinner told reporters after the final. “Sitting here, with this trophy now, watching it, I still have to realize it, because it’s one of the biggest trophies we have in our sport.”
Sunday’s final punctuated a remarkable fortnight of tennis for the 22-year-old Italian, but it was a match that proved a totally different proposition to anything else he had encountered this tournament.
It was evident Sinner was suffering from nerves early in the contest. The errors he hadn’t made all tournament began creeping in and Medvedev, the tournament’s iron man who set a record for most minutes and sets played at a Grand…