Match Reaction

Sinner: Beating Djokovic at Grand Slam something ‘different’

Italian downed World No. 1 to reach maiden major final at Australian Open
January 26, 2024
Jannik Sinner seeks his first Grand Slam title at the 2024 Australian Open.
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Jannik Sinner seeks his first Grand Slam title at the 2024 Australian Open. By ATP Staff

Jannik Sinner had experienced defeating Novak Djokovic prior to the pair stepping on court Friday in Melbourne. Yet his Australian Open semi-final win, his third in the space of three months against the World No. 1, held a different significance for the Italian.

Beating Djokovic over five sets has long been one of the toughest challenges in the game. Sinner hardly blinked as he powered to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 triumph to snap Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak at Melbourne Park and build on his November victories against the 24-time major champion over three sets at the Nitto ATP Finals and the Davis Cup Finals.

“When I play against him, it's obvious right before that it's a tough match,” reflected Sinner in his post-match press conference in Melbourne. “But a Grand Slam is different. It was a tough match, especially when I lost the third set with a match point. I just tried to stay as positive as possible, and it went my way today. I'm really happy."

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Sinner acknowledged that competing regularly against Djokovic at the tailend of 2023 (the Serbian prevailed in the pair’s other November clash, the Nitto ATP Finals championship match) had helped him familiarise himself with the Serbian’s game.

“For me was a huge privilege at the end of last year to play against him three times in 10 days, because obviously you can practise with him, but the match is always different,” said Sinner, who now trails Djokovic 3-4 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. “I feel like this for sure helped me in one way, but in the other way, it's as I said before, a Grand Slam is also mentally different.

“I just tried to play also as relaxed as possible, but also have the right game plan in my mind. I think today it worked really well.”

The way Sinner retained his composure inside Rod Laver Arena after losing a third-set tie-break in which he held match point at 6/5 was particularly notable. The Italian also led Djokovic by two sets to love in the 2022 Wimbledon quarter-finals before falling to defeat, and he was delighted with the way he held his nerve after a mid-match setback this time around.

“It's not easy, because you are so close and then, in your mind, the way is long still," said Sinner. "But in the other way, I sat down, I tried to think also that the score was two sets to one for me, so it was positive.

“I just tried to start again [in the fourth] set in a good way. I was serving, I hold serve, and I was up already in the score. So I tried to stay really focused about the goal I had today, which was a good game plan, and I was hoping that the execution was working, and that's it.

“Obviously fourth set when I broke him, it was a positive feeling. I’m happy that I could finish the match.”

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Now into his maiden Grand Slam championship match, the No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Sinner awaits Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev on Sunday as he bids to become the first Italian, male or female, to lift the trophy in Melbourne. The 22-year-old revealed it was that bigger goal that led to his relatively muted celebrations after his stunning victory against 10-time Australian Open winner Djokovic.

“I feel these kind of emotions you cannot control," said Sinner. "If someone celebrates in one way, you celebrate because this is the emotion that you are feeling [at that moment]. Obviously it means so much to me to beat Novak here in Melbourne, but in another way, I know that the tournament is not over.

“Sunday is a final. It's different emotions because the final is always different. It doesn't really matter how big the tournament is. In my mind today I knew it was a semi-final. It's not that you win the tournament like this.

"So I'm looking forward to Sunday, and let's see what's coming."

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