by Felix Richter,
What do Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev have in common? They all have been among the best tennis players in the world for several years, winning tournaments, earning millions of dollars in prize money, and yet, all of them have so far fallen short of the ultimate goal in tennis, which is winning a Grand Slam title. Until yesterday, Jannik Sinner, a former skiing prodigy from the Italian Alps was in this unfortunate club of Grand Slam hopefuls as well. And after the first two sets of Sunday’s Australian Open final, it looked like it would stay that way for the time being, as his opponent Daniil Medvedev looked determined to double his Grand Slam tally after winning the 2021 U.S. Open.
In his sixth Grand Slam final (the first against someone other than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic), Medvedev got off to a flying start, quickly taking a commanding 6-3 6-3 lead. Sinner stayed in the match, however, and as is so often the case in best-of-5 matches, the momentum gradually shifted in his favor. Sinner won the third and fourth set 6-4 each to force a decider and after breaking Medvedev’s serve for 4-2 in the fifth set, he never looked back. After three hours and 44 minutes, he blasted another forehand down the line to seal victory and become the youngest man since Novak Djokovic in 2008 to win the Australian Open.
As our chart shows, Sinner is only the ninth active men’s player to win a Grand Slam after Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer dominated tennis’ biggest events for the better part of the past two decades. Interestingly, the 22-year-old Sinner is only the third player under the age of 30 on the list, illustrating how hard it is for younger players to break through at the biggest stage. Carlos Alcaraz and Sunday’s finalist Daniil Medvedev are the other two and the only ones on the list who are still looking like serious contenders for future Grand Slam titles aside from Djokovic and Nadal, if he manages to come back from injury once more. Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Marin Čilić and Dominic Thiem are all still playing, but none of them has gotten close to a Grand Slam final in years.
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