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Australian Open 2024: Jannik Sinner 'dances in pressure storm' to win first major

Italy's Jannik Sinner celebrates
Sinner is the first Italian player to win an Australian Open title

Jannik Sinner has put his calm Australian Open-winning performance down to having to "grow up fast".

Considering he had just won his first Grand Slam title, the Italian celebrated in a no-fuss manner in front of a noisy Rod Laver Arena.

Trailing by two sets in his first major final, the 22-year-old produced a masterclass in composure as he launched an epic comeback against Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne.

"I like to dance in the pressure storm," said Sinner, who remained serene even while he lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

Once one of Italy's most promising young skiers, Sinner had to cook and clean for himself when he moved away from home at the age of 14 after deciding to swap the slopes for a career in tennis.

It is a decision that has worked out well for the level-headed Sinner, who barely wobbled as he converted his first Championship point to become the youngest Australian Open winner since 2008, when Novak Djokovic won his first title aged 20.

Before Sunday's final he had dropped just one set - and that was against world number one and 10-time champion Djokovic.

"There is always pressure, but the pressure is something good. You have to take it in a good way. It's a privilege, no?" he said.

'I had to grow up fast'

It was not until the age of 12 that Sinner, a national giant slalom runner-up as a junior, decided to focus solely on tennis - a move that prompted him to move away from his family two years later.

"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 do laundry," Sinner said.

"That was maybe the fastest way to grow up."

Despite being away from his parents, Sinner's coaches say his "wonderful" mother and father have brought him up "really well".

"What you see of Jannik on the court is incredibly respectful, whether it be to the umpires or ball-kids or lines-people, anybody around," Darren Cahill said.

"He's got his feet on the ground. His parents are exactly the same as him."

In line with growing up fast, Sinner's journey to tennis success has been a quick one.

Aged 17 he won his first title on the Challenger Tour and nine months later he established himself as one of the sport's brightest young stars by winning the NextGen Finals title.

Since then he has won 10 ATP titles, reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon and won his first major in Melbourne - but the world number four still says it's hard for his success to sink in.

"You don't even realise how fast things are going," said Sinner.

"Sitting here with this trophy, watching it - for me, I still have to realise it has happened."

Sinner has been cheered on throughout the highs and lows of his journey to date by the 'Carota Boys' - a loyal group of Italian fans who attend his matches wearing carrot costumes after Sinner ate one at a changeover during a match in Vienna in 2019.

Before the final, Sinner joked his fan group had even become more famous than him - but that is certainly not the case after he became just the second player in the Open Era to fight back from two sets down to win the Australian Open final.

The 'Carota Boys', who were at his matches earlier in the tournament, were watching the final together in Turin but there were plenty of other fans holding up toy carrots or dressed in orange on Rod Laver Arena.

A new era for Italian tennis

Jannik Sinner's supporters the 'Carota Boys'
The Carota Boys are often seen supporting Sinner at major tournaments

Before Sunday's final, only one Italian man had won a Slam in the Open Era - Adriano Panatta at Roland Garros in 1976.

Now Sinner is the first Italian player - male or female - to win an Australian Open singles title.

Sinner represents a new era for tennis in Italy, who last had singles success at a major when Flavia Pennetta won the women's title at the US Open in 2015.

Matteo Berrettini threatened to break the mould on the men's side when he reached the Wimbledon final in 2021 and the last four at Melbourne Park a year later.

Now Italy have a new men's Grand Slam winner in Sinner, who already made history for his country in November when he inspired them to their first Davis Cup title for 47 years, beating Djokovic en route to the final of the men's team event.

"The last years with the Davis Cup, and now with the Slam of Jannik is something unbelievable," Sinner's coach Simone Vagnozzi said.

"But it's coming from I think 10 years ago. We have a federation that organises a lot of tournaments so the young players can stay close to home. They can play a lot without spending a lot of money, because we know that tennis is difficult, especially for the young player."

There is also a bright future for Italy in the men's doubles after Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori made it to the final, eventually losing to second seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden on Saturday.

They will hope to follow in the footsteps of Sinner, the little boy who grew up fast and became a Grand Slam champion.