Jannik Sinner has admitted that dethroning Novak Djokovic made his Australian Open triumph ‘special’ after he registered his first major title.
Italy’s world No.4 Sinner produced an epic five-set comeback victory over third-seed Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final to land his maiden Grand Slam trophy.
The 22-year-old, who stunned defending champion Djokovic in the semi-finals, is the first new winner in the men’s singles at Melbourne Park for 10 years.
World No.1 Djokovic went into the Australian Open as the huge favourite, looking for a record-extending 11th title after winning three of the four majors last year.
That would have taken his Grand Slam singles trophy tally to 25, which would have seen him move past Margaret Court for the most in the history of the sport.
But Djokovic fell in the last four to Sinner and the new Italian champion, speaking after his victory over Russian star Medvedev, was asked if it felt ‘a little more special’ to lift his first Grand Slam title while Djokovic is still so dominant in tennis.
‘It feels special when you see the big names in the draw and you can win it, yes,’ Sinner said in his press conference. ‘Because I feel even more privileged to only be in the draw and then trying to win against other players.
‘You know, the more you go on, you see less people around in the locker room or in the eating area. This makes you feel, okay, I’m making a good tournament at the moment.
‘And that was exactly the feeling what I had, like, in the last three rounds or so, because from quarters there is quite empty. That’s a really, really good feeling.’
Djokovic, who saw his incredible 33-match winning run in Melbourne come to an end after defeat to Sinner, sent a congratulatory message to his rival following Sunday’s final, admitting that he ‘deserved’ to come out on top this year.
‘Bravo Jannik,’ Djokovic posted on Instagram. ‘Deserved. Congratulations to your team and your family.’
World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz, who beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last summer and surprisingly crashed out in the quarter-finals at this year’s Australian Open, has also congratulated Sinner.
‘I am so happy for you Jannik!’ Alcaraz posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. ‘You deserve it more than anyone! Enjoy the moment my friend!’
Italian footballers Domenico Berardi and Guglielmo Vicario sent messages to their compatriot Sinner too following the conclusion of the final on Rod Laver Arena.
Sassuolo star Berardi, capped 27 times by Italy, posted a clip of himself watching the final on Instagram with the caption: ‘Phenomenal. Never give up!!!’
Tottenham goalkeeper Vicario, meanwhile, posted a photo of Sinner on Instagram with a mind blown emoji, Italian flag emoji, trophy emoji and blue heart emoji.
‘It means a lot [to become the first Italian man to win the Australian Open],’ Sinner added. ‘Maybe the most important.
‘Because the support I get throughout now already 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.
‘Having them, it’s tough to say, because it’s like the crowd, they give you… that’s the reason why you play in one way. Because when the stadium is packed, 15,000 people, they are cheering for you or for your opponent.
‘It’s an amazing feeling just to go on court. Then obviously when you’re in tough situation, you want to make a good match also. Like today, I was going so fast, I was two sets to love down, but all the people who came there to watch, I was, like, I have to at least trying to make it a match somehow, and that was today’s case.’