It is only a "matter of time" until Carlos Alcaraz is the number one tennis player in the world, according to Richard Krajicek.

At the age of 20, Alcaraz has already won Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming world number one in September 2022.

He was defeated in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to kick off this year's grand slams, though, failing to win any of the three tournaments in which he has played in 2024.

However, former world number four Krajicek believes Alcaraz is on his way to becoming the best, despite dropping to number two in the world rankings.

"His potential is very high," Krajicek told Stats Perform. "I think he's the future number one.

"I'm not saying anything special because he's beaten everybody. He beat Djokovic three times out of the last four times they played. He beat Medvedev from being two sets to love down, which shows how mentally and physically strong he is.

"So for me, it's a matter of time until he becomes number one. I think he can play on all surfaces, maybe clay is his worst surface but all the other surfaces you would say he's a title contender."

With the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic already retired or nearing the end of their storied careers, there's been much discussion over who will fill their boots.

Alcaraz has already proved his abilities, while 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner claimed Australian Open glory to kick off this year having reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2023.

Krajicek feels those two will lead the way for the next era of men's tennis, saying: "It's difficult to say who the next generation will be, but I think Alcaraz and Sinner will have a good rivalry. They already have played unbelievable matches.

"Of course, Alcaraz has already been number one, won two Grand Slams. Sinner is now slowly coming also to that level. He is number four, maybe number three after this week."

However, Krajicek has reservations over whether the likes of Alcaraz and Sinner can reach the legendary status of the 'Big Three'.

"To really have the same kind of rivalry, I don't know if that's possible," Krajicek added. "I mean, together, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic won 66 Grand Slams. That's incredible. In every Grand Slam, they were in the final or winning. It's just amazing.

"I don't know if it's possible to have two players or three players that basically win every Grand Slam they play. But I believe those two are going to be the two biggest names for the next couple years."

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner can join Novak Djokovic as members of a new 'Big Three' in men's tennis over the coming years, before taking up the Serbian's mantle when he retires.

That is the view of four-time grand slam semi-finalist Tommy Haas, who believes Sinner's sheer power will help him build on the Australian Open title he captured last month.

Sinner recovered from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling Australian Open final in January, claiming his first grand slam title at the age of 22.

The Italian's triumph made him the third-youngest man to win the event since it moved to Melbourne Park in 1988, older only than Djokovic in 2008 and Jim Courrier in 1992.

That breakout victory led to suggestions that Sinner could join Alcaraz in becoming a regular challenger to Djokovic, who has largely dominated men's tennis in recent years, with Roger Federer retiring in 2022 and Rafael Nadal beset by injury problems.  

While Haas believes Alcaraz is currently a more rounded player than Sinner, he feels the Italian has every chance of adding to his first major crown in the coming years.

"Maybe with Al, it's a bit more of an all-round game, but I think Sinner is going to continue to work on his," Haas told Stats Perform. 

"He's already done a great job on movement, on defence. Maybe he doesn't actually need to learn to get to the net and finish more, but I'm sure he's going to try because of his powerful groundstrokes.

"If he keeps playing like he does, it's just so powerful. You're going to be reacting pretty much all the time against him.

"He's going to try to improve his serve, he's going to try to improve physically. If he stays healthy, if Alcaraz stays healthy, these two are going to be the ones playing for a lot of the big titles."

However, Haas also thinks there are other contenders capable of pushing for major honours, adding: "Then you have Holger Rune, you have these other young players coming up.

"He now has to step it up a little bit. I think there's been lots going on with his team, with lots of chefs in the kitchen, but he's got the right mindset, he's got the will, he's got the potential.

"You have [Alexander] Zverev, who obviously still believes he can and should win a slam, so there's a lot of nice contrast there. 

"Medvedev, on hardcourts you can never count him out, and he's only 27. I think there is still potential for those guys to keep doing well.

"[Andrey] Rublev, I feel like he's getting better on defence as well. He pounds the ball like no other. So if he gets a little bit tougher mentally, don't count him out. There's a lot of good storylines there."

Jannik Sinner became tennis’ newest grand slam champion at the Australian Open while Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her title.

The year’s first grand slam brought plenty of long matches and late nights and set the tone for an intriguing season to come.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five things we learned at Melbourne Park.

Changing of the guard

The shifting sands of the sport have moved extremely slowly over the last decade, but there is no doubt change is here – and more is on the way. No one will be writing off Novak Djokovic after one off-colour tournament – he still reached the semi-finals despite being nowhere near his best – but power is moving towards the youngest generation, led by Carlos Alcaraz and now Sinner. Rafael Nadal’s comeback adds extra intrigue heading towards the French Open.

Sabalenka setting the standard

Iga Swiatek remains world number one but not by much and, based on the last five slams, Sabalenka can lay claim to be the best across all surfaces. While Swiatek will be favoured to sweep all before her on clay again, she has work to do to prove she can be a consistent force on hard courts and grass. Sabalenka was awesome in Melbourne, never dropping a set and maintaining a sense of emotional calm that the rest of the locker room would have observed with some trepidation.

New Norrie

Cameron Norrie has been Britain’s Mr Dependable over the last three years, using his physical and mental prowess to battle his way into the top 10. But in Melbourne the 28-year-old showed a whole new attacking side to his game that was a joy to watch. Norrie pulled off the best slam victory of his career over Casper Ruud in the third round and pushed Alexander Zverev all the way to a deciding tie-break before bowing out. If he continues on the same path, he can put himself right in the mix at the biggest tournaments.

Raducanu back on track

Emma Raducanu may only have made the second round of her comeback slam before a tight loss to Wang Yafan but the signs were very encouraging. The 21-year-old played with conviction, looked good physically barring an unfortunate stomach bug and, most encouragingly, appeared happy and excited to be back on tour. It will take Raducanu time to find her level but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, especially if she sticks with new coach Nick Cavaday for a sustained period.

Late night addiction

Tournament director Craig Tiley’s claim that extending the event to 15 days would somehow fix the problem of matches going late into the night was always farcical, and so it proved. Even only having two matches in the day session did not guarantee the night session began on time, and Daniil Medvedev’s second-round clash with Emil Ruusuvuori did not finish until 3.39am. Until tennis accepts that matches are becoming ever longer and schedules accordingly, nothing will change.

“Special” Jannik Sinner is ready to lead tennis’ youth revolution alongside Carlos Alcaraz, according to his coach Darren Cahill.

Sinner’s comeback victory against Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final gave him a first grand slam title and appears a sign of things to come.

The 22-year-old has followed in the wake of Carlos Alcaraz, who is two years younger, and between them they have now won three of the last six slams, with Novak Djokovic winning the rest.

The Serbian will be 37 in May and, while writing him off would be extremely premature, there is no doubt the hierarchy is changing.

Cahill said: “I think this sport at the moment has a few superstars. I think Carlos is very similar to Jannik in both the way they play with the excitement level they bring to the game, and their personalities and their likability.

“Both guys are incredibly alike off the court. They both like each other. They have a friendly rivalry. They both light it up when they play each other. I don’t think any of their matches have ever been boring.

“I think we have some really good personalities in the game at the moment, and it’s important they keep winning. It’s important they do what Jannik was able to do, and that’s to show a side of this young generation that are going to fight until the very end.”

He continued: “They really want to make a name for themselves, and Jannik did that. Carlos has done that already a couple of times, the match he played at Wimbledon to beat Novak was just a special performance.

“Our job now is just to make sure that we keep him pumped up. It’s a long year, and it’s important to enjoy the moment, but when we get back onto the tennis court, we will try to keep him in that good mindset and try to keep him winning.”

Alcaraz became a slam champion as a teenager in New York before stunning Djokovic in five sets at Wimbledon last summer.

Sinner’s path has been more gradual and Cahill, who previously worked with the likes of Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Simona Halep, has no doubt Alcaraz’s success has inspired his man.

“Hell, yeah, absolutely,” he said with a smile. “There’s no question seeing the young players come through and having success drives each and every one of them. Not just Jannik. They all desire it.

“Carlos has trailblazed for a lot of young players. We’re thankful for that. He’s a delight to watch play, and a delight to watch him on court. We aspire to be as good as him and hopefully one day be better than him but, at the moment we’re chasing Carlos, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Sinner, who hails from the north of Italy and was a champion skier as a child, split from long-term coach Riccardo Piatti in the summer of 2022 and hired renowned Australian Cahill and countryman Simone Vagnozzi.

The combination is certainly working, and Cahill added: “We believe in Jannik, we always have. He’s a special young kid. Even the way he hits the ball, it just sounds special.

“When you hit the ball the way he does, when you want to improve the way he does, when you move the way he does, he’s going to have success at some point.

“Our job as coaches is to try to fast track that as quickly as possible and get him to where he wants to go quickly so he can have a long window at the top of the game.

“He’s been doing well. He’s absorbing everything and trying new things on the court, and he just wants to get better. I’m sure after this sinks in he won’t settle. He’ll never settle.”

Sinner is popular with his peers, who have long known the explosive power contained in his wiry frame.

Speaking on Eurosport, Australian star Nick Kyrgios said: “Jannik is an incredibly nice guy in the locker room. You always see him super professional, but he’s like a sponge.

“Ever since he came on tour that first match he played against Steve Johnson in Rome, the locker room was watching and thinking, ‘Who is this skinny guy who has the crowd in the palm of his hand?’. We could already see the ball-striking.

“This is going to be such a big leapfrog to him, I think we’re going to see him win plenty more slams in the next couple of years. Now he’s got this one, he’s going to be unstoppable.”

Jannik Sinner proved himself a man for the big occasion with a stunning comeback against Daniil Medvedev to lift his first grand slam trophy at the Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Italian handed Novak Djokovic his first loss at Melbourne Park for six years in the semi-finals but looked like he would have to settle for the runners-up plate as Medvedev dominated the first half of the match.

Sinner was not finished, though, and he slowly began to take control with his huge groundstrokes, opening his grand slam account in brilliant fashion with a 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory.

Earmarked as the man most likely to lead the game into its next era alongside Carlos Alcaraz, Sinner, who beat three of the top five seeds in successive matches, has decisively shown that he can be a force for years to come.

He is the first Italian to win the singles title in Melbourne and the first man at any grand slam since Adriano Panatta at the French Open in 1976.

“It means a lot, maybe the most important thing,” said Sinner, who led Italy to the Davis Cup title in November.

“There is always pressure, but the pressure is something good. I like to dance in the pressure storm. Because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis.

“I still have to process it because, beating Novak in the semis and then today Daniil in the final, they are tough players to beat.

“So it’s a great moment for me and my team but, in the other way, we also know that we have to improve if we want to have another chance to hold a big trophy again.”

Sinner is the youngest winner of the men’s title since since Djokovic back in 2008, but he is mature beyond his years on and off the court.

In his acceptance speech, Sinner, who was a champion skier as a child, movingly thanked his parents for allowing him to choose his own path.

“I don’t see them so often, unfortunately, but when I see them it’s always a great time,” he said with a smile in his press conference.

“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 make laundry.

“I think for me it was tough but, for my parents, to leave their son at 14 years old, it’s also not easy. They never put pressure on myself, which for me is maybe the key why I’m here today. I’m a quite relaxed man, who just enjoys to play tennis.”

It had been almost 20 years since an Australian Open final did not feature one of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

Medvedev had the benefit of experience playing in his sixth grand slam final, while for the first time he did not see either Djokovic or Nadal across the other side of the net.

The Russian had endured a tortuous route to the final, though, with three five-set matches, two of them from two sets down, and more than 20 hours spent on court.

His solution was to go against type and begin in ultra aggressive fashion, which brought immediate dividends with an early break of the Sinner serve.

The Italian had not faced a single break point against Djokovic but here he could not keep Medvedev at bay, the third seed, who won his only slam title so far at the US Open in 2021, opening up a 5-1 lead in the second set.

Sinner retrieved one of the breaks and, although he could not quite turn the set around, it was a sign of things to come and, as Medvedev tired, the young Italian began to get on the front foot, breaking in the 10th game of both the third and fourth sets.

Heading into the decider he was a clear favourite once more and, after breaking to lead 4-2, he sealed his big moment in fitting fashion with a forehand winner blasted down the line.

Sinner admitted Medvedev had taken him by surprise with his approach, saying: “I was expecting something different from his side, so I had this feeling that he might come out a little bit more aggressive. Not this aggressive.

It was a cruel way to lose for Medvedev, who was also beaten from two sets up by Nadal in the final two years ago and was hoping to make it third time lucky in Melbourne.

But the 27-year-old refused to be too downhearted, saying: “I was trying to be proud of myself, and I am. I was fighting, I was running. I was, like, ‘If tomorrow I don’t feel my legs, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to try everything I can today until the last point’, and I did it.”

No one has ever spent longer on court at a grand slam, to which Medvedev reacted with a wry smile: “At least I got a record in something.”

Jannik Sinner clinched his first grand slam title in dramatic fashion by coming from two sets to love down to beat Daniil Medvedev.

The 22-year-old Italian followed up his victory over Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals by quelling a fast start by Medvedev to win 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3.

He is the youngest Australian Open champion since Djokovic in 2008 and the first Italian man to win a major singles trophy since Adriano Panatta at the French Open in 1976.

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While Sinner and Medvedev battled it out on Rod Laver, Katie Boulter was among those preparing for the WTA tournament in Linz, which starts on Monday.

Roll of honour

Women’s singles: Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus)
Men’s singles: Jannik Sinner (Italy)
Women’s doubles: Hsieh Su-wei (Chinese Taipei) and Elise Mertens (Belgium)
Men’s doubles: Rohan Bopanna (India) and Matt Ebden (Australia)
Mixed doubles: Hsieh Su-wei (Chinese Taipei) and Jan Zielinski (Poland)
Girls’ singles: Renata Jamrichova (Slovakia)
Boys’ singles: Rei Sakamoto (Japan)
Girls’ doubles: Tyra Grant and Iva Jovic (USA)
Boys’ doubles: Maxwell Exsted and Cooper Woestendick (USA)
Men’s wheelchair singles: Tokito Oda (Japan)
Women’s wheelchair singles: Diede De Groot (Netherlands)
Men’s wheelchair doubles: Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid (Great Britain)
Women’s wheelchair doubles: Diede De Groot and Jiske Griffioen (Netherlands)
Quad wheelchair singles: Sam Schroder (Netherlands)
Quad wheelchair doubles: Andy Lapthorne (Great Britain) and David Wagner (USA)

Jannik Sinner staged a brilliant fightback from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev and win his first grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Italian handed Novak Djokovic his first loss at Melbourne Park for six years in the semi-finals but looked like he would have to settle for the runners-up plate as Medvedev dominated the first half of the match.

Sinner was not finished, though, and he slowly began to take control with his huge groundstrokes, opening his grand slam account in stunning fashion with a 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory.

Earmarked as the man most likely to lead the game into its next era alongside Carlos Alcaraz, Sinner has decisively proved that he can be a force for years to come.

For Medvedev, though, this is a crushing blow, with the Russian now having won only one of six grand slam finals – at the US Open in 2021 – while this is the second time in three years he has led by two sets to love here only to lose.

The first of those came against Rafael Nadal in 2022 but, even without the Spaniard or Djokovic across the net in a final for the first time, he still could not claim the trophy.

It had been a tortuous path to get here for Medvedev, who recovered from two sets down to win against Emil Ruusuvuori at 3.39am in round two and Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, while also needing five sets to defeat Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight, spending more than 20 hours on court.

It had been almost 20 years since an Australian Open final did not feature one of Djokovic, Nadal or Roger Federer.

Sinner’s victory over Djokovic was a breakthrough moment for the 22-year-old but Medvedev immediately set about showing him that, for once, he carried the advantage of experience and knew just how to handle the occasion.

The Russian’s usual tactics involve standing several metres behind the baseline and using his long levers to form the human equivalent of a brick wall.

But here, whether necessitated by fatigue, a tactical switch or a combination of the two, Medvedev stepped straight in and began swinging.

Sinner had not faced a single break point against Djokovic, a first for the out-of-sorts Serbian in his grand slam career, but here he found himself 0-40 down in only his second service game, and Medvedev took his second chance.

Having lost his first six matches against the Russian, Sinner beat him three times in quick succession at the end of last season and went into the contest as the favourite having dropped only one set all fortnight.

He could not find a foothold in the match, though, Medvedev striking his groundstrokes with such crisp precision that Sinner, normally one of the most aggressive players in the game, was left scrambling to stay in rallies.

He got the crowd involved in the second game of the second set, saving four break points with some stellar defence, but Medvedev simply came at Sinner again and broke twice in succession to lead 5-1.

At last there were signs of life from the Italian when Medvedev served for the set, Sinner breaking back and then threatening to get on terms only to net a forehand on break point.

It offered Sinner some hope, though, and an even third set went his way when he forced a break of the Medvedev serve at 5-4, upping the pace on his groundstrokes and finally managing to hurt his opponent.

Medvedev had the scar tissue from the loss to Nadal two years ago in his mind and 23 hours of tennis in his legs, and he called the trainer for attention to his right foot after three games of the fourth set.

It was now very much Sinner forcing the pace, although a saved break point at 3-3 was a huge moment, and even more so when the fourth seed again found the breakthrough in the 10th game with huge hitting.

Medvedev headed off court to change but, having taken a long break at the end of the third set, he was not permitted extra time and was given a time violation for not being ready to start the deciding set.

Sinner knew this was his for the taking, and take it he did breaking for 4-2 before clinching the biggest win of his life in fitting fashion with a forehand winner down the line.

Marathon man Daniil Medvedev hopes experience can be his trump card against Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open final.

Sinner is through to his first grand-slam showpiece after stunning Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals while this will be a sixth shot at a major trophy for Medvedev.

The Russian won his only title at the US Open in 2021, losing twice more in New York and twice here, in 2021 and 2022, with all his finals so far pitting him against either Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.

In Melbourne two years ago, Medvedev led Nadal by two sets to love only to lose in five, but that has been his trick this year, with the third seed coming from two sets down to beat Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round and Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

He also played a five-setter against Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight and has spent more than 20 hours on court in his six matches, nearly six hours longer than Sinner, whose only dropped set came against Djokovic.

The Italian has carried his superb form from the end of last season into 2024 but a first slam final always presents its own challenges, and Medvedev said: “I hope it gives (me an advantage), because I hope to have some advantage.

“Physical advantage I probably don’t have. Tennis advantage, let’s see. But three last times he got me. So I hope that this experience can help me.

“First final, I think it’s always different for everyone. I’m sure some guys went out in the first final and felt so good they just managed to win it. Some would go and it would be tough mentally and they would lose.

“I have no idea how Jannik is going to be, but I have this experience. I will try my best. I will fight for my life, and let’s see who wins.”

Medvedev is one of the quirkiest characters on tour and he has had a love-hate relationship with crowds around the world, but a personal vow to behave better on court seems to be paying dividends.

“Mentally 100 per cent I’m stronger than I was before this tournament because now I know that I’m capable of some things maybe I thought I’m not, because before I didn’t do anything like this to get to the final,” said the 27-year-old.

His long-time coach Gilles Cervara, who has been known to walk out of matches over his charge’s behaviour, has seen it all.

“I know that, no matter what, he’s searching for a solution all the time,” said Cervara. “Also he wants to win so much. So both of these parts makes me feel that he still has a chance in any situation.

“Sometimes when I ask him some questions about his game on court, about what he put his concentration into or, when he misses, what he could do, and the answer he gives me makes me feel like, ‘Wow, I’m talking to the number three in the world, he was number one, he won a grand slam, and I have the feeling that I’m talking to a teenager’.”

This will be a 10th meeting between Medvedev and Sinner, with the Russian winning the first six but then losing three times in a row late last season, when Sinner won titles in Beijing and Vienna, reached the final of the ATP Finals and led Italy to the Davis Cup.

Hailing from the north of the country, the 22-year-old was a champion skier as a child before committing to tennis.

His huge groundstrokes marked him out as a special talent but it is since switching to the coaching team of Simone Vagnozzi and renowned Australian Darren Cahill in 2022 that he has climbed to the top of the game.

Cahill, who has previously worked with the likes of Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Simona Halep, said of Sinner: “He’s got the qualities I believe that a lot of the great champions in the game have, but you’ve got to start winning to let that come to fruition.

“So he’s making little steps. He had a good finish to the year last year. He gained a lot of belief from what he was able to do.”

Novak Djokovic branded his defeat by Jannik Sinner to end his long unbeaten Australian Open run as one of the worst performances of his career.

The world number one’s 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6) 6-3 loss in the semi-finals was his first at Melbourne Park since a fourth-round defeat by Chung Hyeon in 2018, ending a 33-match streak taking in four titles.

Djokovic made 54 unforced errors, dropped serve five times and, for the first time in a completed grand slam match, did not create a single break point.

“First I want to congratulate Sinner for playing a great match, great tournament so far,” said the Serbian, who had been chasing a record 25th slam title and 11th here.

“He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely today. I was, in a way, shocked with my level, in a bad way. There was not much I was doing right in the first two sets.

“I guess this is one of the worst grand slam matches I’ve ever played. At least that I remember. Not a very pleasant feeling playing this way.”

Sinner was seen as the most likely rival to stop Djokovic ahead of the tournament after beating him twice in two weeks at the end of last season at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup.

The 22-year-old moves through to a first grand slam final, becoming the first Italian to reach a singles decider here, and he regrouped impressively after missing a match point in the third-set tie-break.

“It was a tough match, especially when I lost the third set with match points,” said Sinner. “I just tried to stay as positive as possible, and it went my way today. I’m really happy.”

Djokovic struggled with illness at the start of the fortnight and had a tougher passage through to the last four than usual, losing three sets along the way.

But he is a master at pacing himself in best-of-five-sets tennis and finding his best when it matters so it was a shock to see him so off colour in the first two sets especially.

“The whole tournament I haven’t really played close to my best,” said Djokovic. “In a way it did surprise me, because I thought it won’t be that bad in the first two sets.

“But, on the other hand, I didn’t feel really myself on the court during this tournament. One can say semi-finals is a great result, of course, but I always expect the highest of myself.”

There is no doubt the hierarchy in men’s tennis is finally changing, with Sinner, who had not dropped a set prior to this match, now following up Carlos Alcaraz’s Wimbledon final victory over Djokovic with his own grand slam breakthrough.

The Italian is a much more understated character than his fellow young gun but he projects a quiet confidence that has grown noticeably in the last six months.

“I think you win the matches not only on that day,” he said. “You win it because you feel prepared for a good fight. You feel prepared mentally and also physically.

“I think after last year, especially the end of the year, it gave me confidence that I could potentially do some good results in grand slams. But you still have to show it. There are people who talk a lot, but you have to show it.

“But, if it’s not this year, it’s next year, and then if it’s not next year, it’s the next year again. I’m really relaxed. I just try to work as hard as possible and in my mind I feel like the hard work always pays off in one way, and we are working really hard for our dreams.

“Obviously I’m really happy about Carlos, what he has made and what he is doing. When we play it’s always a good match-up, but at the moment we also have to say that he is further than I am.”

Djokovic will turn 37 in May and, while no one will be writing him off, there is no doubt this is a big blow, with the Serbian having won the title on all 10 previous occasions on which he had reached the last four in Melbourne.

It also emphasises his incredible record here, with Djokovic saying: “I’m kind of hot-headed right now. After the match it’s very difficult to reflect on things in a more profound way.

“Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a few days’ time, but I definitely have a lot to be very proud of in terms of what I have achieved here. The streak was going to end one day.

“This has been a very special city, best, by far, grand slam of my career. I just hope that I’ll get a chance to come back, to play at least another time and go through the emotions once more.

“I still have high hopes for other slams, Olympics, and whatever tournaments that I’ll play. It’s just the beginning of the season.”

Jannik Sinner announced himself as a grand slam force in stunning fashion by becoming the first player in six years to defeat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

The 22-year-old Italian was seen as the most likely rival to stop Djokovic claiming an 11th title in Melbourne ahead of the tournament after beating him twice in two weeks at the end of last season at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup.

But surely no one would have predicted the manner of the first two sets of this semi-final, with an error-strewn Djokovic winning just three games.

He saved a match point in the third-set tie-break to give himself hope but there was no dramatic comeback, with Sinner regrouping impressively and going on to clinch a 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6) 6-3 victory after three hours and 22 minutes.

The fourth seed moves through to a first grand slam final while Djokovic, who had not lost here since a fourth-round defeat by Hyeon Chung amid elbow problems in 2018, must lick his wounds, with a record 25th slam title proving beyond him for now.

The result was, of course, a shock given Djokovic’s incredible record here – this is the first time he has ever lost having made it beyond the quarter-finals – but it was the Serbian’s display that was the most surprising.

He committed 54 unforced errors and did not even make Sinner use his haymaker groundstrokes that often, the Italian instead able to maintain a very high but comfortable level and not facing a single break point.

Djokovic struggled with illness at the start of the fortnight and had a tougher passage through to the last four than usual, losing three sets along the way.

Sinner, the first Italian to make an Australian Open singles final, had not dropped a set all tournament, and he started as he meant to go on, breaking the Djokovic serve to lead 2-0 with a searing forehand followed by a drive volley winner.

By contrast, nothing was working for Djokovic, with routine shots landing in the net or out of court, while he was also struggling on serve.

Sinner broke again to lead 5-1 and wrapped up the first set with just over half an hour gone.

Djokovic is a master at pacing himself in best-of-five-sets tennis and he would certainly not have panicked having lost only two of the last 17 slam matches in which he dropped the first set.

But the pattern of the match continued in the same vein, with more Djokovic errors helping Sinner break for 2-1 in the second set.

Djokovic whipped up crowd support after saving a break point at 2-4 in fine style but Sinner broke anyway two points later and served out the set.

Two years ago at Wimbledon, Sinner led Djokovic by two sets to love only to lose in five, so he knew very well that the match was far from over.

Djokovic, who had barely showed any emotion, clenched his fist after saving a break point in the opening game of the third set, and he at least managed to serve better.

At 5-5 and deuce on the Serbian’s serve, a medical emergency in the crowd forced a delay for several minutes, but Djokovic held his nerve on the resumption.

The world number one knew it was now or never in the tie-break, and he opened up a 4-2 lead, but Sinner surged back, creating a match point at 6-5 but netting a forehand, and a backhand over the baseline two points later gave Djokovic a lifeline.

He was still hanging on, though, saving three break points in the second game of the fourth set only to then be broken from 40-0 two games later.

Djokovic forced Sinner to serve it out but the Italian did not waver, clinching the biggest win of his life with a forehand winner.

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka will take on first-time grand slam finalist Zheng Qinwen for the Australian Open crown on Saturday.

Sabalenka reversed the result of the US Open final, beating Coco Gauff 7-6 (2) 6-4, while 12th seed Zheng ended the run of qualifier Dayana Yastremska with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

Britain’s Alfie Hewett is one win away from defending his wheelchair title and will again face Japanese teenager Tokito Oda for the trophy.

Picture of the dayStat of the dayPoint of the dayLegacyWho’s up next?

The men take centre stage on Friday, with Novak Djokovic putting his 33-match unbeaten run at Melbourne Park on the line in a semi-final clash against fourth seed Jannik Sinner.

In the night session, familiar foes Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev will do battle for a place in the final.

Britain’s Neal Skupski goes for a fourth grand slam title alongside American Desirae Krawczyk in the mixed doubles final, with the pair taking on Hsieh Su-wei and Jan Zielinski.

Novak Djokovic puts his 33-match unbeaten Australian Open run to the test against Jannik Sinner on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

The world number one has not been beaten at Melbourne Park since a fourth-round loss to Chung Hyeon back in 2018, with only two opponents in the intervening six years managing to push him to five sets.

Djokovic appears to have recovered from the illness that was troubling him at the start of the fortnight, but was tested in a four-set quarter-final win over Taylor Fritz and, if anyone is going to end his streak, Sinner appears a prime candidate.

The 22-year-old beat Djokovic twice in successive weeks at the end of last season at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup, where he led Italy to the title, and is the only player in the men’s draw yet to drop a set.

“This is what I practise for, to play against the best players in the world,” said Sinner. “Obviously he has an incredible record here, so for me it’s a pleasure to play against him, especially in the final stages of the tournament where things are a little bit more interesting.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough. This, I know. I will control the controllable, which is giving 100 per cent, having the right attitude, fighting for every ball. And then we see the outcome. More than this, I cannot do. It doesn’t really matter who my opponent is.”

Sinner reached his first slam semi-final at Wimbledon last summer but lost in straight sets to Djokovic, who is tantalisingly close to a record-breaking 25th major title.

This has not been one of his more straightforward paths through the draw in Melbourne, but his desire to continue racking up the biggest titles remains unquestionable.

“I’m aware of the streak that I’m on and the amount of matches that I have won in my career on the Rod Laver Arena,” said Djokovic.

“I don’t want to let that go. The longer the streak goes, the more that kind of confidence, also expectations, build, but also the willingness to really walk the extra mile.”

The second semi-final pits two very familiar opponents against each other in the shape of third seed Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev is bidding to reach his third final at Melbourne Park in the last four years while Zverev crashed the top-four party by defeating Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday for his best victory at a slam.

Medvedev and Zverev, who are certainly not the best of friends, have played each other 18 times previously but strangely never at a slam.

Russian Medvedev leads the head-to-head 11-7 having won five of the six matches they played last season, but Zverev took time to get back to his best after a serious ankle injury.

“A lot of matches were extremely close,” said the German, who lost his only grand slam final at the US Open in 2020.

“A lot of the times it came down to him being extremely confident last year, him playing some of the best tennis of his life, and me coming back from injury and not having the confidence in deciding moments and not being able to finish matches.

“He’s obviously extremely difficult to play. No question about it. He’s one of the best players in the world right now. But I’m happy in the position I am, and I’m going to do everything I can to win that match on Friday.”

Novak Djokovic suffered in the heat at the Australian Open but made it past Taylor Fritz and into the semi-finals.

There he will face Jannik Sinner, who finished his straight-sets victory over Andrey Rublev at 1.22am after long matches in the day session.

There will be a rematch of the US Open final in the women’s semi-finals, where defending champion Aryna Sabalenka will face Coco Gauff.

Picture of the dayStat of the dayBromanceMum’s the word

Gauff was not too impressed with mum Candi’s moment in the spotlight, saying: “I saw the video of her celebrating. I was, like, ‘it wasn’t that hard of a ball to catch. You know, celebrate your little wins’.

Fallen seeds

Women: Barbora Krejcikova (9)

Men: Andrey Rublev (5), Taylor Fritz (12)

Who’s up next?

The quarter-finals conclude on Wednesday, when Carlos Alcaraz’s battle with Alexander Zverev takes centre stage in the night session.

The winner will face either third seed Daniil Medvedev or ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz, while China’s Zheng Qinwen is the only seed left in the top half of the women’s draw and plays Anna Kalinskaya.

Czech teenager Linda Noskova, who beat Iga Swiatek in the third round, faces qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the opening match of the day.

Jannik Sinner followed up his heroics against Novak Djokovic by leading Italy to their first Davis Cup title for 47 years.

When Sinner was staring at three match points on Saturday with Italy 1-0 down to Serbia, it appeared hugely improbable that he would be lifting the trophy 24 hours later.

But the world number four somehow recovered to defeat Djokovic, repeated the feat in doubles along with Lorenzo Sonego and then saw off Australia’s Alex De Minaur 6-3 6-0 on Sunday to clinch a 2-0 victory.

That sparked joyous celebrations among Sinner’s team-mates and the Italian-dominant crowd at a packed and vibrant Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena in Malaga.

The victory earns Italy just their second Davis Cup title after success in 1976 as they continue to reap rewards from their heavy investment in men’s tennis in recent years, while for Australia it was more disappointment after their 2-0 loss to Canada in the final 12 months ago.

In Sinner, Italy have a potential superstar and it was fitting that it was the 22-year-old, who had won both singles and doubles rubbers in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, was the man to seal it.

Given Australia’s strength in doubles, though, the crucial win may have been Matteo Arnaldi’s in the opening rubber against Alexei Popyrin.

Nerves were all too evident in a clash of two young players inexperienced in the unique pressure-cooker of Davis Cup but it was 22-year-old Arnaldi who ultimately handled it better to win 7-5 2-6 6-4.

Popyrin, 24, seemed to have a grip on the match after losing the opening set and had eight break points in the decider but Arnaldi was rewarded for bold play at the big moments and it was his opponent who tightened up when it really mattered.

A tearful Arnaldi said: “It’s very emotional, more because a very important person passed away a month ago for me and my girlfriend so this is for him. I think now I won one of the most important matches in my life.

“I’m sorry for Alexei, because he deserved to win, for sure. He was playing better. But sometimes Davis (Cup) is like this. I had my team cheering a lot, and I think that helped a lot.”

Popyrin was distraught, saying: “It’s heartbreaking. I let it slip, and it hurts.”

De Minaur has a strong record in the competition but he went into the must-win clash knowing he had lost all five previous matches against Sinner.

The schedule was in his favour having had a day to prepare following a comfortable semi-final victory over Finland and there was a real spring in his step as he took to the court.

But Sinner’s big weapons quickly began to dictate proceedings, with the Italian breaking his rival’s serve twice in the opening set.

Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt, part of the team the last time they won the title 20 years ago, tried to inspire De Minaur to a comeback but this was Sinner’s moment.

Novak Djokovic was left to rue a “bitter” end to another record-breaking season after losing twice to Jannik Sinner as Italy defeated Serbia to reach the Davis Cup final.

The world number one suffered an unwanted career first when he failed to convert three consecutive match points in a pulsating 6-2 2-6 7-5 singles loss – his first in the competition in 22 matches and 12 years.

Serbia had led 1-0 in the semi-final in Malaga thanks to Miomir Kecmanovic’s win over Lorenzo Musetti but Djokovic’s defeat sent the tie to a deciding doubles contest.

Djokovic and Sinner lined up on opposite sides of the net for the fourth time in less than two weeks alongside Kecmanovic and Lorenzo Sonego respectively, and it was the Italian duo who clinched a 6-3 6-4 win to send their country through to a clash with Australia for the title on Sunday.

Djokovic had hoped to crown the season in which he became the most successful man in tennis history with a second Davis Cup title, and he made no attempt to hide his disappointment.

“Congratulations to Italy for qualifying for the finals,” he said. “They deserved it. They played really well, particularly Jannik, in singles against me and then doubles, as well. He barely missed a ball the entire match.

“For me personally it’s a huge disappointment, because I take the responsibility, obviously having three match points, being so close to winning it. It’s unfortunate really. This is sport. When you lose for your country, the bitter feeling is even greater.”

After Kecmanovic had backed up his fine showing against Britain’s Jack Draper by coming from a set down to defeat Musetti 6-7 (7) 6-2 6-1, the stage seemed set for Djokovic to send Serbia through to the final.

The confidence Sinner had gained from his group stage victory over Djokovic at the ATP Finals was negated by a convincing loss in the final but the world number one looked fatigued, perhaps more mentally than physically, during the first set.

Both men had headed straight from Turin to Malaga but Sinner is 14 years younger than his rival and he took full advantage of some uncharacteristic errors to reel off five games in a row.

It was another excellent atmosphere at the Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena, befitting the sort of marquee clash that Davis Cup has not seen enough of over the last decade and more.

Djokovic showed more positive energy at the start of the second set and was pushing for a break throughout the decider.

But Sinner refused to buckle, saving break points in two separate games prior to his remarkable renaissance at 4-5, when he won five points in a row from 0-40.

In a reminder that even the very best are not immune to pressure, the Serbian was then broken himself and Sinner served out a stunning victory.

Djokovic’s record in doubles is poor and, in a contest that made up for in drama what it lacked in quality, the Italian duo claimed a deserved victory to crown Sinner’s special day.

The world number one, who again became involved with the crowd, this time conducting along to Italian jeers, refused to blame fatigue, saying: “I don’t want to talk about it because it’s going to sound like an excuse.

“Obviously this is a tough one to swallow. I was really trying to hype myself and encourage myself for this week. Throughout the entire season, my thoughts were this week with my Davis Cup team. I tried to contribute. I did in the first tie, but today it wasn’t meant to be.”

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