Australian Open: Jannik Sinner Stuck To Game Plan, Stayed Positive, And Succeeded

Jannik Sinner (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, January 29, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Jannik Sinner‘s five-set comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev to win the 2024 Australian Open on Sunday, coming from two sets down to garner his first major title, demonstrated for everyone just how far he’s come as a competitor.

With his 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 6-4, 6-3 triumph that lasted three hours and 44 minutes, Sinner became the first Italian to win the Happy Slam title. The World No. 4 beat three Top 5 players – No. 5 Andrey Rublev, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Medvedev – en route to winning his first major crown. The 22-year-old from San Candido in South Tyrol achieved his title feat against Medvedev, who is no stranger to going the distance or suffering the heartbreak that goes with being on the losing end of a Grand Slam battle.

Also, Sinner is the first player from Italy since Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open to win a major and the youngest winner in Melbourne since a 20-year-old Djokovic won his first Grand Slam in 2008.

“I’m extremely happy how I handled things today,” Sinner happy and grounded, expressed in his champion’s new conference Sunday night. “The situation on court was very, very tough.

“I think the most important part was the support I had throughout these two weeks. I felt that many, many people were watching also from home in the TV, so I just tried my best. I was a little bit in trouble today with two sets to love down and in a little bit over one hour.

“So, I just tried to stay positive, trying to sticking to the game plan, which I had to adjust a little bit. Daniil is an incredible player, and he showed this also today again an incredible fighter. He spent so many hours on court. So I’m obviously sorry for him today, but for sure he will lift some more Grand Slam trophies.”

Looking back, Sinner had a phenomenal last quarter to the 2023 season, in which he won 20 of 22 matches and captured two ATP 500 crowns in Beijing and Vienna. He also played a pivotal role in leading Italy to the Davis Cup Finals title. Asked by a reporter if he could pinpoint a moment that made him realize he was ready to win a Grand Slam title, Sinner replied: “I think this season what I have done, not last year, two years ago, getting to know my body better, getting to know my team better, this was a very important step for me.”

Sinner gave props to his coaches, Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi, who together have helped Sinner realize his potential as well as given him the resources and tools to succeed.

“Last year, we tried to have some more results. I started off really well from the indoor tournaments, Indian Wells, Miami, I made semifinal and final,” Sinner recalled. “Then, also Monaco I made semifinal. Then the semis in Wimbledon. So, I had very good results. I think that made me believe that I can compete against the best players in the world.”

Still, Sinner admitted, “I have to process it, because it was, you know, beating Novak in the semis and then today Daniil in the final. They are tough players to beat. So it’s a great moment for me and my team, but in the other way, we also know that we have to improve if we want to have another chance to hold a big trophy again.

“So, this is all, the process and the hard work occasionally will always pay off.”

Next, Sinner was asked to describe what role his parents (father Johann, mother Siglinde), who were not present in Melbourne, have played in his success on the tennis court.

I don’t see them so often, unfortunately, but when I see them it’s always great time,” he said. His parents work together at a restaurant, Talschlusshutte, in Sesto-Val Fiscalina (dad is a chef, mom is a server). Sinner grew up in a German-speaking region of Italy. He is fluent in Italian, German and English.

“I went away from home when I was 14 years old. So, I had to grow up quite fast, trying to cook for myself, trying to make laundry. You know, the first times it is different, you know, but then in the other way, that was maybe the fastest way to grow up.

“I think for me was tough, but for the parents to leave their son with 14 years old, it’s also not easy. They always gave me, they never put pressure on myself, which for me is maybe the key why I’m here today. I’m quite a very relaxed man, who just enjoys to play tennis. I’m 22 years old, so I also enjoy to do normal stuff.

“And that’s it. They are the perfect parents. Obviously, I know only them but they are awesome.”

Sinner said it meant a lot to be the first Italian to have his named etched on the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, awarded to him for winning the Australian Open.

“Maybe the most important,” he said. “Because the support I get throughout the years, it’s incredible. Being able to make them happy today, because I feel like that they push me also, that I can believe in myself and then having so much support, it’s amazing.”

Finally, Sinner addressed the pressure of living up to people’s expectations of becoming a future Grand Slam champion while growing up in Italy.

“There is always pressure, but the pressure is something good,” Sinner suggested. “You have to take it in a good way. It’s a privilege, no? Because there are not so many players who have this kind of pressure, but in the other way, when you have pressure, it’s always, okay, he believes that I can really do it.

“So, yes, I like to dance in the pressure storm. I don’t know how to tell. Like me personally, I like it, because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis. I’m also quite relaxed in this occasion, because I always try to enjoy on the court.

So, I think pressure is a privilege, to be honest.”

The Hall of Fame great Billie Jean King, who coined the phrase that has become part of the tennis lexicon, would be proud of young Jannik channeling her.

Sinner congratulated by his peers

Soon, after Jannik Sinner won his first Grand Slam title, congratulatory messages began to roll in via social media. Among those who congratulated Sinner were: Hall of Famers Rod Laver and Billie Jean King, Carlos Alcaraz, Iga Swiatek, Caroline Garcia and two-time Australian Open women’s champ Victoria Azarenka.

By the numbers

“Quotable …”

“I’m extremely happy that I am in this position now. I have a great team behind me who knows what I have to do. With Darren, he has a lot of experience. He has been through this already numbers of time. Simone, we were talking already after the match that we can improve still.

“So, you know, it’s all part of the process. Obviously having this trophy, it’s an amazing feeling. I feel grateful to have this here. But I know that I have to work even harder, because the opponents, they will find the way to beat me and I have to be prepared.

“Let’s see what’s coming in the future.”

Jannik Sinner, 2024 Australian Open champion, during his champion’s news conference, on his confidence going forward backs by his coaches Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi.