Jannik Sinner terminated Novak Djokovic’s bid for tennis immortality at the Australian Open on Friday, ending the Serb’s record 33-match winning run at Melbourne Park and his bid for a 25th Grand Slam title.
The Italian fourth seed was unfazed by dropping his first set of the tournament against the king of Rod Laver Arena, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 to reach a first Grand Slam final.
He will face either third seed Daniil Medvedev or sixth seed Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s title match.
“It was a very, tough match,” said Sinner. “I started off really well. He missed in the first two sets. I felt like he was not feeling that great on court so I just tried to keep pushing.”
Ten-time champion Djokovic, who had not tasted defeat at the Australian Open since 2018, was gunning for a record-breaking 25th Grand Slam title but Sinner ripped up the script in spectacular fashion.
Djokovic had no answer to his 22-year-old opponent early in the match but did not help his own cause, hitting 29 unforced errors during the first two sets in an uncharacteristically sloppy showing, compared with just eight for Sinner.
The 36-year-old lacked his usual metronomic consistency as the super-cool Sinner, unconcerned at facing a man who had never lost a semi-final at Melbourne Park, raced into a 3-0 lead.
The Italian broke again in the sixth game and seized the set when Djokovic went long with a forehand.
The decibel count on centre court rose at the start of the second set and Djokovic settled himself with a convincing hold.
But his error count continued to mount and Sinner, who had beaten Djokovic in two of their previous three contests, broke in the third game to establish a vice-like grip on the match.
Djokovic urged the crowd to come to his aid and cries of “Nole” rang around the packed stadium but he was broken again and slipped two sets down.
The match was paused at 5-5, 40-40 as medical staff treated a fan in the crowd but Djokovic brushed off the interruption to hold serve and the set went to a tie-break.
The Serb nudged ahead but Sinner came back to earn his first match point, only to dump a forehand into the net.
Djokovic made no mistake when presented with his chance to take the set, raising his clenched fist to the crowd.
But the Serbian’s serve came under renewed pressure again in the fourth set and he cracked to give Sinner a 3-1 lead.
The Italian kept his nerve to close out the match and end an era at Melbourne Park.
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