*Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 4-4 1-0 Medvedev What a match this is, and no more than the tournament deserves. On the men’s side, it’s been as intense an Aussie Open as I can remember, a record number of five-setters and some disquietingly, inspirationally maniacal tennis. And you’ve got to favour Sinner from here, momentum and youth on his side but also the serving that is often key in settling such contests. He found his range just in time and, if we’re being honest, can still play better than he is. This is Medvedev’s 31st set of the tournament, the most by any player in the open era of a singles Slam, and he makes 15-30 … only to go wide on the backhand. Sinner looks a different person to earlier – he’s grown up out there – gesticulating and such, but like he’s certain this is his moment, and he’ll believe that even more fervently when Medvedev ends a sapping rally with a backhand error. Medvedev will be struggling not to picture the agony awaiting him if loses here, and when Sinner carts an ace down the T to secure the game, you fear for him.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 Medvedev* A longer rally, Sinner netting a forehand, to give Medvedev 15-0; he’ll be grateful for that, but returns the gift sweeping long one of his own. Sinner then plays a really poor drop when poised to push in front, only for Medvedev to err for 30-all. The title might be here, right now, and sinner punishes a forehand towards the corner, a wondrous get from Medvedev, hanging a backhand that soars deep … and Sinner shanks his forehand! But have a look! He goes with it again next point, a terrifying winner earning deuce, and Medvedev directs a backhand wide! Advantage Sinner, the set up for grabs .., AND THERE IT IS! A forehand demolished on to the baseline, Medvedev can’t return, and WE HAVE GOT OURSELVES A DECIDER! OF COURSE WE HAVE! WHAT AN EFFORT FROM BOTH THESE FREAKS OF NATURE!
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 5-4 Medvedev Up 15-0, Sinner nets a backhand, and both men are feeling it, exposing their psyches for our entertainment; thanks lads. Sinner, though, is hitting his spots on first serve more often, getting to 40-15 before conjuring a forehand from centre-line to sideline, a fantastic and unexpected shot that means Medvedev will shortly serve to stay in the set. I can’t wait, and it’s only 90 seconds away!
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 4-4 Medvedev* A big backhand down the line makes 0-15, but Medvedev wears it well only to guide a backhand wide at 30-15, and again this is tight. The rallies are getting longer out there, not that I’ve a clue who that favours given Medvedev must be tired but knows better how to construct them. And as the rallies are getting longer, so too are the games, Sinner making deuce with a backhand down the line, but from there Medvedev closes out and looks seriously indignant at the thought his serve might’ve been broken there. He knows how close he is.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 4-3 Medvedev* And it’s heavy! Sinner shanks a backhand wide, follows it with a double, and is this the championship here? A serve into the net, Medvedev with a second delivery to go at … but he hooks a poor backhand nowhere near anywhere; 15-30, and we learn that if he wins here, it’ll be the longest anyone’s spent on court so to do, over 23 hours, Nadal in 2022 the longest. He might remember that one! But at 30-all, a big forehand deep incites the error, and Medvedev has break point … so Sinner mass-murders an ace down the T, of course he does! Then, given a pass when Medvedev does little returning a second serve, he punishes a forehand winner, waggling and pointing finger before sealing a vital hold with an ace. He is relishing this now, and aren’t we relishing him relishing it too?! This is fantastic stuff.
DO NOT MISS THE TESTVANGELISTS!
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 3-3 Medvedev* Medvedev is back playing more aggressively, another fine volley making 30-0, and an ace seals the game, pressure dumped squarely back on to Sinner, who won’t be used to this – but also carries no baggage.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 3-2 Medvedev An absolute animal of a rally opens the game, a net-cord sitting the ball up and allowing Medvedev to take control of it. But he can’t force home the advantage, a forehand on to the baseline forcing the error … only for a double to gift 15-all. Sinner’s hitting really good lengths now, a backhand close to the chalk too good, and he holds to 15, though Medvedev showed better signs than of late. The build is agonising, because at some point, we’re getting a drop.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 2-2 Medvedev* A forehand winner and a Medvedev error give Sinner 15-30 – it’s him making the running now, though a service-winner levels the game. And shonuff, Medvedev nets a backhand when up 40-30, and losing that two-set lead to Nadal will surely be playing on his mind. All the more so when he does the same next point to cede advantage, making Medvedev play three rally-enders to actually end the next rally. This is tense and intense now, a big serve and a too-long lob securing a gargantuan hold, but Sinner remains the better player while still playing significantly below his best.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 2-1 Medvedev This is the beauty of five sets really, the match long enough to allow both players to play well and badly; Medvedev, perhaps improving again, plays a nice forehand for 0-15, then Sinner, definitely serving properly again, spanks down an ace. But he then nets a drop at 30-all and Medvedev, given a look at a mid-box second serve … can’t capitalise. Missed chance that, Sinner closing out thereafter, after which the Russian calls the trainer to have a look at his already taped right foot.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 1-1 Medvedev* Yup, two Medvedev errors make 0-30 … but two big first serves level the game. No matter: Sinner switches momentum in the next rally with a backhand down the line, raising break point, then makes Medvedev play another ball with a fine get out wide; Medvedev does just about enough with a mishit putaway. From there, he closes out, hanging in a long rally then slamming an ace down the T. That’s a crucial hold, but it’s the youngster in the ascendancy now.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 1-0 Medvedev Medvedev leaves court between sets, which makes sense – he needs to reset because momentum has switched, and Sinner has much better in him than we’ve seen so far. He’s also played a lot of tennis these last couple of weeks after taking time off, so any break he can get will help. But he’s back now and probably knows he’ll have to guts it out because recapturing the form of sets one and two seems unlikely now he’s tired. Sinner, meanwhile, will want to keep him moving while hitting more freely, and the holds are coming easily – this one to love. And it tells us how high his bottom level is: if he serves well, he’s very difficult to beat whatever else is going on.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 6-4 Medvedev* Now then! Medvedev nets a tired forehand, but given a look at a second serve, Sinner doesn’t attack it as he should … but Medvedev nets another forehand for 0-30! Here we go! A backhand winner makes 15-30, then a brutally long rally, the longest of the match, looks to be Sinner’s when he dispenses a lovely drop … but Medvedev runs it down … but the chance for the putaway is there …. but Sinner strikes wide! Oh what an oversight that is! We do, though, wind up at deuce, the Russian now the man forced to struggle for everything he gets, and when put on his bike, a squash shot that falls long means Sinner has set point! And there it is! Medvedev scoops a forehand over the baseline, and do we go ourselves a ball-game? We got ourselves a ball-game! Sinner didn’t play that well in that set but he played better while Medvedev played worse, and that was enough!
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 5-4 Medvedev Excellent from Medvedev, flipping back a pick-up that lands on the baseline, and when Sinner’s response is nondescript, he makes 30-15. Sinner, though, delivers an ace to raise game point – he’s serving better now – only to err on the forehand, then when Medvedev hangs in the next rally, a forehand swiped wide brings us to a deuce that looked unlikely a few seconds ago. Big pressure for Sinner now, who knows of he’s broken, he’s toast, and he desperately needs a first serve … but can’t find one. No matter, Medvedev goes long on the forehand, a poor shot given the circumstances – he had time – and the stakes – it would’ve taken him close to the title –and thanks to it, Sinner quickly secures the game. Medvedev must now serve to stay in set three.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 4-4 Medvedev* A service-winner gets Medvedev away, and he won’t mind playing percentages now the hot streak has cooled. Like so, another service-winner makes 30-15, a netted return makes 40-15, and another dominant point means another swift game. It cannot be overstated how nuts it is to consider when Medvedev was this time on Friday, and where he is now.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 4-3 Medvedev An ace makes 30-0 and from there, Sinner, 100% on first-serve points won this set, closes out for a love hold. He looks a lot less resigned now, and if he can snaffle this set, we’ll really be talking.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 3-3 Medvedev* Sinner chozzes down a carrot at change of ends then, handed a free point for 0-15, has a chance create pressure by taking the next. But he cannot, standing deep to receive a second serve and getting punished for his circumspection, Medvedev finishing the rally in short order. The problem Sinner has is that, in losing the tactical battle, he’s lost confidence in his ability to just hit the ball, so isn’t hitting it quite as well, and Medvedev seals a hold – to 30, so things aren’t coming as easily – with an ace.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 3-2 Medvedev Medvedev goes fractionally long when in charge of the first rally, Sinner winning the first point of a service-game for only the fourth time tonight. He holds to 15, and Medvedev is making a few more errors now.
“Sinner appears to be the Andy Murray to Medvedev’s Djokovic today,” reckons Simon McMahon. “I’ve nowt against Medvedev, he’s a great player and will have earned his victory the hard way after losing final appearances in 2021 and 2022. Murray a five times runner-up though! Sinner, however, will be back, unlike, I fear, Andy.”
Yes, in another era, Murray wins way more, but how much must those he has mean? Jim Courier has four due to playing at the right time, likewise Lleyton Hewitt who has two, but to invert Graham Gooch’s famous line, it’s not just how many, it’s how.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 2-2 Medvedev* Excellent from Sinner, getting Medvedev moving before wrongfooting him for 0-15, but can he stack a second good point on top of it? He cannot, missing when he shouldn’t, then unable to do anything as Medvedev plays a decent backhand to the corner and finishes off with yet another lovely volley. From there, he closes out for a hold to 15, and you get the sense that, at some point, he’ll break again and that’ll be that.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 2-1 Medvedev Medvedev makes 0-15 but then nets, and he’s not quite as fresh or as accurate as before. He’ll know, though, that in a five-set match that’s to be expected, and as long as he can keep holding, he can settle the match by taking a point here and there. But not here, Sinner holding to 15 and ending the game with an ace. He’s playing better now, but is still struggling to control the rallies.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 1-1 Medvedev* Given a look at a second serve, Sinner is well in the first rally only to direct a forehand into the top of the net Medvedev, who perhaps lost a bit of focus when up 5-1 in set two, then nets a forehand for 30-15, and another double makes things interesting here. But at 40-30, Sinner, well in the point, needlessly thrashes long, ceding a hold that was tougher than most we’ve seen so far tonight.
*Sinner 3-6 3-6 1-0 Medvedev Sinner left it too late to sway that set but is hitting more freely now, the deficit perhaps loosening his shoulders, and a forehand winner down the line gives him 15-0. And, though a double follows, a compensatory service-winner comes next, then an ace out wide, and this is what I thought this match would look like, little that I know. Medvedev, though, isn’t giving up the game, making 30-40, but a big serve and clean-up forehand give Sinner the start he needs.
Sinner 3-6 3-6 Medvedev* Yes he can, a terrific backhand to the corner facilitating the overhead volley putaway for 0-15, then a backhand winner, smoked down the line with Medvedev at the net, makes things interesting. Medvedev, though, finds a big first serve, a backhand winner of his own, also hammered down the line, halving his arrears. And Sinner has another chance when a dribbled second serve arrives, but it’s so poor it looks to surprise him, he nets, and another service winner raises set point. Except Medvedev, now feeling it rather than himself, doubles – it’s tight out there now – then nets, set point quickly becoming break point. His first serve has deserted him in this game, but a big forehand raises advantage, and another, down the line, secures a set that got tricky at the end but overall is the culmination of more fantastic work from the world number three. He leads 2-0 and it’ll take a comeback of ludicrous brilliance to prevent him winning his second major at some point in the next few hours.
*Sinner 3-6 3-5 Medvedev Better from Sinner, finding a decent T-serve at 15-all before a wide return raises two game points. Another service winner follows, meaning Medvedev will now have another go at securing the set. Can Sinner get ask more questions?
Sinner 3-6 2-5 Medvedev* I feel for Sinner, who at leat wins his first point of the set on the Medvedev serve for 15-all … then Medvedev nets for 15-30. And what’s this?! Caught at the net after a poor volley to a decent forehand, he’s passed, meaning Sinner has two points to retrieve a break, and though he cedes the first, a good backhand down the line towards the toes elicits the error, and has Sinner turned the corner? He breaks and will know Medvedev once lost a final here up two sets and a break – admittedly to a history-chasing Nadal, but any port in a storm and all that.
*Sinner 3-6 1-5 Medvedev Sinner goes to his coach between games, Darren Cahill telling him to “take the net away from him”. Easier said than done – I hate to say it, but I wonder if the Italian has sort of accepted that he’s powerless out there, without accepting at it all, but sort of accepting it really, without accepting it at all, but sort of accepting it really. And just as I type that, an error gives Medvedev 15-30, Kyrgios saying he’s “rattled”, adding he’s being “exposed for I don’t know what, I don’t have the answers”. AND THERE’S THE REASON WHY! A long rally, then out of naewhere, Medvedev leaps like a ninja, inventing a forehand angle to disburse an inside-out forehand winner of intense and savage beauty, Sinner misses another first serve on a key point, opts to come in to try and make something happen … and attacked by another passing shot, misses his volley! Medvedev is up a double-break, and will now serve for 2-0! The chances of him failing so to do appear miniscule.
Sinner 3-6 1-4 Medvedev* How do you even get fit enough to do this? Medvedev holds to love and, in comms, Nick Kyrgios giggles through the last point, himself in awe of the Slim Reaper’s perfection. Sinner isn’t in this, but he’s not been allowed to be in this and, so farm it doesn’t seem like he’s the tools, mentally or tactically, to respond.
*Sinner 3-6 1-3 Medvedev I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Medvedev play this well or this aggressively, the flatness of his strokes denying Sinner the time and air he needs to properly get after the ball. But from 0-15 he makes 30-15 … only to send down a double, the pressure of Medvedev’s advanced returning position and attacking intent telling. Shonuff, up 40-30, Sinner nets, rushing because he’s being rushed, and as his game is being deconstructed, so his serve is suffering. Again, he misses a first serve on deuce, Medvedev able to dominate the point, and this time offered a volley for a break, he snaps it away, and frankly I’m in awe of what we’re seeing here from one of the great competitors and strategists in all sport. He leads by a set and break, and to devise produce this kind of performance, two days after playing for four-odd hours, is mind-boggling.
Sinner 3-6 1-2 Medvedev* Medvedev’s returning has been wondrously good today, but he’s serving nicely too, rushing to 30-0. He’ll be desperate to get Sinner back under pressure with as quick a hold as possible and does, to love; Sinner needs to find a different way, perhaps using more slice and coming to the net more, because currently, he’s getting a going-over.
*Sinner 3-6 1-1 Medvedev Sinner makes 30-0, but then finds himself at 30-all and already, these feel like big moments: if Medvedev breaks here, the road back will be a long one. And the Russian again ups the pressure, taking control of the rally with a backhand, coming in shortly after, and it feels like his enormous, looming presence at the net intimidates his opponent into making the error, a backhand into the net. But a huge forehand followed by a huge swing-forehand make deuce and that’s more like it from Sinner, a big serve then a clean-up forehand raising advantage. He badly needed that, the kind of point he expects to play regularly, but we wind up back at deuce, Medvedev playing a stunning point, volleying when he doesn’t have to to put Sinner under immediate pressure, then finishing the point with a lovely touch-volley drop. And again, down break point, Sinner can’t find a first serve so Medvedev comes in, dominating the rally, but the Italian does brilliantly to stick in it and benefit from a missed overhead, raising an arm to the crowd in celebration. For all the good it does him, a gorgeous backhand winner down the line raising a third break point; again, Medvedev looks poised to break, again Sinner hangs in there and again he raises an arm when a forehand winner restores deuce. This is a colossal game, Sinner saving yet another break point with a slice followed by a backhand cross – however this shakes out, he’s showing himself something here – and up advantage, he frames a volley on to the line for a potentially match-altering hold.
Sinner 3-6 0-1 Medvedev* Sinner looks a little forlorn out there, and I wonder if he’s got the tools to deal with this situation, on the fly and under this kind of pressure. Against Djokovic, he just played his own game and that was enough, but Medvedev is trying to take away from him the things he does best, hitting flatter and trying to rush his opponent. He holds to love, and we learn that Sinner’s contact point is 13cm down on previous rounds.
*Sinner 3-6 Medvedev Forehand out wide, forehand down the line, and Medvedev has 0-15 but, in charge of the next rally, he goes wide on the backhand. Still, though, he was well inside court looking to attack, and when he blocks back a return, Sinner, surprised by the lack of pace on the ball, can only flap long; 15-30, And have a look! Medvedev, again standing well in to receive, quickly manufactures a backhand winner; a longer rally doth ensue, Sinner saving the first set point when Medvedev nets. And he gets away with the second too, a poor drop inviting his opponent in … but with most of the court empty, the Russian hits to him and he guides a winner down the line for deuce. No matter: Medvedev sees Sinner coming in, makes him hit a tough volley, then comes in himself to pass for advantage, and when Sinner again goes long, he concludes an absolute sonning-off of a set. Medvedev has been brilliant, technically and tactically; Sinner has some thinking to do.
Sinner 3-5 Medvedev* Two serve winners make 30-0, and this is borderline psychopathic from Medvedev – in the best possible way – given he played four hours 18 minutes on Friday. He’s 88% on first serves and another easy hold takes him a game away from the set.
*Sinner 3-4 Medvedev Medvedev makes 0-15 but an overhit forehand then an ace, then an overhit backhand take Sinner to within a point of the game. He’s playing better now, a serve-forehand double-team securing things, but he can make an impression on the Medvedev serve? He’s running out of time so to do in this set.
Sinner 2-4 Medvedev* Is Sinner into the match now? He wins a rally from the back when Medvedev nets, but is then directed about the court, a surprise forehand to the corner altering the flow of the next point with a backhand cleaning up for 15-all, then two service winners in a row making 40-15. From there, Medvedev quickly finishes off the game with a forehand, and his aggression and precision are, so far, the dominant aspects of this match.
*Sinner 2-3 Medvedev So far, his is a proper welcome to the big leagues from Medvedev, a forehand winner giving him 0-15 But Sinner then finds what I think is his first proper forehand winner, leaping into a monster down the line. Medvedev then errs on consecutive forehands, a service winner follows, and that’s much better from the Italian, the kind of hold to which he and we have become accustomed.
Sinner 1-3 Medvedev* An ace down the T gives Medvedev 30-0, and Sinner hasn’t really got going yet. Medvedev, though, is looking great, again coming to net to volley, then a further ace secures the consolidation in short order, forcing Sinner to go again almost immediately.
*Sinner 1-2 Medvedev A longer rally, Sinner swiping a backhand wide to hand over 0-15, then going long on the fore. Little chance for Medvedev, and though it’s early in the match, he won’t expect too many 0-30s, so how will he attack this one? He gets a second serve at which to go, goes to Sinner’s forehand – that’s the second time he’s done that, and he’s trying to play aggressively – a long rally ensures … and again, a little imprecision, Sinner going long, means three break points. Medvedev isn’t waiting to be asked here, quickly coming in only to overhit, and when Sinner does next point, he’s able to hit one stretch-volley, but can’t get to a second, a big forehand pass too good. First blood Medvedev, Sinner broken for just the third time in the competition, and he’s looking good out there so far, trying to make things happen instead of hanging about waiting for an error.
Sinner 1-1 Medvedev* I wonder if Sinner fancies medvedeving Medvedev, moving him about to put more yards into his legs. But for now, the Russian gets to 40-15 easily enough … only to double. His propensity to hand over points like that was perhaps the main reason he lost the first set of his semi, and he won’t get away with it today, going long on the backhand to cede deuce. He soon makes advantage, though, a net-cord sitting up and pleading to be dispatched; Medvedev does not disappoint, a service-winner follows, and he’s on the board.
*Sinner 1-0 Medvedev (denotes server) Good return from Medvedev, to the feet and helping him to 0-15, but Sinner, who’s been broken just twice in the competition, quickly levels us up. From there, he secures the game – with an ace – but it’s notable that we see Medvedev have a go at his second serve. I don’t think he’ll be as passive tonight as he was against Zverev – if for no other reason that he can’t afford another match of 67,301-stroke rallies.
And play, Sinner to serve.
Anyone else think Lleyton Hewitt and Shay given might be related?
Laver is absolutely buzzing, and rightly so.
Our players are tunnelled … and here they come! Sinner looks dead pensive, like a kid putting on their angry face.
Sinner is, as discussed, Italian. But he’s from the north, where the classical temperament is more Austrian: calm, composed and almost cold. Though he’ll be buzzing to be in his first Slam final, he won’t shrink nor will he get over-excited. And given his serve and forehand are so reliable, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to settle.
Also going on: Baz’s Testvangelists are delivering yet again.
In other, rrrrridiculous Australia news:
Now that you ask, I’m going for Sinner in four. Medvedev will need to play better – much better – than he has so far, and I don’t think that’s in him, even if he’s at his best and not coming off a second marathon of the competition.
Let’s be real, though. This weekend, there’s only one champion.
The last Italian man to win a Slam was Adriano Panatta at Roland-Garros in 1976. Even if Sinner loses today, that’s not something we’ll be saying for much longer because over the last few months, he’s proved that at some point, he’ll win one of these. And after that, he’ll win a few more.
And whether Medvedev has legs for yet another struggle, we don’t know. He seemed to get stronger against Zverev, but at times looked exceedingly bedraggled, and I’d not be shocked if it took the first set today to run that out of his legs – and head.
I thought Medvedev got away with it against Zverev on Friday. Of course, the comeback and contest were awesome, but he took too long to adjust tactics when the original plan wasn’t working, and Sinner is a far more solid, versatile opponent. I’d not be surprised if he wins in three, whereas for Medvedev to win, given Sinner’s consistency and serve, I think it’ll take a struggle.
So how will our match go? Happily for all of us, here’s Coach Calv with the breakdown: “It’s a classic tactical match of attack v resistance. Medvedev always beat him but Sinner won the last one. You’d have to favour Sinner because of how fresh he is compared to how many minutes Medvedev has played, and if Sinner plays well, he’ll win, whereas if Medvedev plays well, he won’t necessarily win.
There’s not loads to say on it tactically because they’re both pretty straightforward in how they play. Medvedev will try to keep Sinner out of the middle of the court. When you’re playing a big ball-striker you always want to keep them moving, so they can never set behind the ball, and they’ll still try and hit huge while moving, which is more of a risk. Sinner will use the drop-shot a fair bit I would think, while Medvedev’s issue is that he doesn’t really have a way of shortening the points that doesn’t compromise the thing he’s good at.”
It feels slightly strange to begin by thinking about who isn’t here, rather than who is, but such is men’s tennis in the big-three aeon: the question isn’t just who wins today, but what that win might mean.
Novak Djokovic has colonised 12 of the 18 Grand Slam titles and three of the last four, his dominance equal parts incredible and routine. So when he’s beaten as definitively as Jannik Sinner beat him on Friday, the focus is inevitably on him and whether we might, finally, be witnessing the end of one of the most outrageous epochs any sport has ever seen.
But it’s not just about the end of an epoch but the start of another. Daniil Medvedev has been there or thereabouts for a while now, losing in four major finals while winning one, but it’s probably fair to say there will never be a Medvedev era. He’s a brilliant player, of course, but not brilliant enough to refocus an entire sport and make it solely about him; at best, he’s an interregnum commander, handily placed to elevate his career with big pots by hitting his peak just as the greatest of all time fades.
Jannik Sinner, though, is a different thing, a 22-year-old physical and mental freak still nowhere near his best, who on Friday quietly demolished Djokovic like it was his birthright. If he wins here, we might later look upon today as the day the world changed, and a new world order established itself.
Or, alternatively, this might just be a blip, with Djokovic coming back in Paris – and Wimbledon, and New York – to blow everyone away again. But in the meantime, this is going to be great.