Novak Djokovic has been knocked out of the Australian Open by World No.4 Jannik Sinner. On Friday the Italian did something no one else has managed to do for more than six years, beat the Serb at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic was riding an incredible 33-match winning streak at the Australian Open but Sinner came out firing in the semi-final, breaking Djokovic's first service game and from there never looked back, winning 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-3. Previously, Korean Chung Hyeon was the last man to beat Djokovic at Melbourne Park when he upset the Serb in the fourth round in 2018.
"There’s a new king in Melbourne!" Sam Smith declared in commentary after match point, as the young Italian showed his win over the Serb at the ATP Finals and in the Davis Cup was no fluke. The World No.1's loss leaves him level with Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam singles crowns and must wait until the French Open in May to try and take the top spot by himself.
Sinner is thriving under the guide of Australian super-coach Darren Cahill, who led Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Simona Halep to the top of the rankings. The Italian has not lost a match since Alexander Zverev at the US Open in September and is brimming with confidence.
"I don't know what to say, really," admitted Sinner. "I came here (in late December), I started off in Kooyong with a couple of exhibition matches and tried to come here as prepared as possible.
"The confidence from the end of last year has kept the belief that I can play against the best players in the world. I'm really happy that I can play Sunday in my first final. Let's see how it goes. I will come here with a smile and try my best."
Todd Woodbridge says Novak Djokovic can only blame himself
Australian great Todd Woodbridge says Djokovic only has himself to blame for the scheduling headaches at this year's Australian Open. Throughout the tournament Djokovic has voiced his frustrations at being overlooked for his preferred night session spot at Melbourne Park, first losing the time slot in the fourth round in favour of Aussie Alex de Minaur. He again missed out on the spot again, with Sinner and Andrey Rublev preferred for their quarter-final match-up.
But Woodbridge on Friday said Djokovic can only blame himself for losing out on his preferred position after he accepted the option of opening his campaign with a first-round match on the opening day of the Australian Open - a decision that granted him an extra day of recovery. "He started the tournament first, on the Sunday, and it’s my understanding he was very happy to do that because he felt that gave him extended rest throughout the tournament," Woodbridge said on Channel 9.
"It gave him more time to get ready and at his age, he’s looking for that. So that meant that by virtue of having his match play in the afternoon after two days off, this part of the draw has to play first because Zverev played a couple nights ago and so they need the extra rest and that gets them into the evening match.
"So today’s semi-finals were already scripted in the position they are. It’s not about him getting shafted or getting put in the day. It goes back to the very beginning of the tournament where he decided it was best for him to go on the opening day and he was going to go deep and it gave him the best chance of recovery throughout the 15 days."
True to form, Djokovic fans were left blowing up about the decision to schedule him in the day time on Friday. The 36-year-old appeared to run out of steam, while Sinner had plenty in the tank after not dropping a set all tournament before the semi-final.
playing djokovic in the day session for the last 2 matches is criminal, when has the number 1 seed been denied a prime time spot? #AusOpen
— jack (@yvngleanboy) January 26, 2024
Any coincidence that the one year Djokovic doesn’t get prime time slots out of the heat of the day he doesn’t make the final? This years ‘illness’ reminded me of his early days where he would try and change matches with injury breaks and retire hurt so he wasn’t ‘beaten’.#AusOpen
— Gavin Charles (@gavin_charles1) January 26, 2024
Now every Slam will schedule Djokovic matches in day time with wind.
— EmileSakaOdeNelli (@Sounak) January 26, 2024
Wish Djokovic was given night schedule match instead of Medvedev-Zverev. Djokovic plays best at night here in Australia. https://t.co/b1e5HqjaKy
— Nandita Das (@Nandita43081631) January 26, 2024
Said it for years, folks: day matches
First ever AO SF/F that Djokovic loses occurs after the schedule switch introduced this day semifinal https://t.co/Y0VCyUDwwn
— Trenton Jocz (@TrentonJocz) January 26, 2024
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