Australian Open: Jannik Sinner wins first Grand Slam after miraculous comeback vs. Daniil Medvedev

Sinner erased a two-set deficit to defeat the world's third-ranked player

Jannik Sinner of Italy holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup aloft after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Jannik Sinner is the first Italian man to win the Australian Open since Adriano Panatta in 1976. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jannik Sinner might have believed he was ready for this moment before. But on Sunday, he was truly ready to ascend to the top of his sport.

Against Daniil Medvedev, one of his main rivals and the ATP No. 3, Sinner came back from a two-set deficit to capture his maiden Grand Slam title 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 over a 3-hour, 44-minute match. Sinner, a gangly, 22-year-old redhead from Northern Italy, used every tool in his belt to defeat Medvedev, relying on his elite athleticism to stage a comeback from what looked like almost certain defeat.

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Sinner was on his heels from the start. Medvedev came out strong, preventing Sinner from getting into a rhythm or settling into his familiar spot behind the baseline. Medvedev constantly rushed him on his serves, leaving Sinner in an uncomfortable defensive spot.

But in the third set, Medvedev began to tire. He made it to the final after a pulling off an exhausting, five-set comeback of his own against Alexander Zverev. Sinner, on the other hand, was fresh as a daisy. It had taken him just four sets to beat Novak Djokovic in the semifinal, and until that match, he hadn't dropped a set all tournament. Sinner seemed to have an endless spring of energy running through his veins while Medvedev's movements began to look a little leaden.

Sinner saw the advantage and pounced. When he's really in a rhythm, he's an orange-tinged tornado of whirling limbs. As the match wore on and Sinner gained the upper hand, he finally started playing at his free-flowing best, which is when he's most unbeatable.

Once Sinner nailed down his win, he collapsed onto the court before popping up to exchange hugs with his friend and vanquished foe.

After letting the feeling of winning wash over him, Sinner ran into the stands to hug his team. They enveloped him in an embrace until all you could see was the top of his head.

During his speech, Sinner also had kind and beautiful words about his parents and how they allowed him the freedom to choose what he wanted to do as a child.

Sinner is the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam since Adriano Panatta in 1976. He's the first new winner the Australian Open has seen in a decade — the last winner who wasn't already a champion was Stan Wawrinka in 2014.

Despite being just 22, this breakout has been a long time coming for Sinner. A year ago, he sometimes played like his mind and body weren't in full connection, like he was struggling against one or the other to make the adjustments he needed. Now, he is playing in harmony with himself. He has taken that leap and no longer has to fight both his opponent and himself to win a match.

And it's just January. We've got 11 months and three more Grand Slams to see what else Sinner can do this year.