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A NEW MENS CHAMPION TO BE CROWNED AT THE AO.



The Australian Open men’s final has been decided, and for the first time since 2005, we have a final without one of either Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic.

 

Tonight at Melbourne Park, either Italy’s Jannik Sinner, or Russia’s Daniil Medvedev will lift the Norman Brookes trophy for the very first time.

 

The men’s field this year, has been the total opposite to the women’s draw, with almost all the top seeds, bar Stefanos Tsitsipas, making it to the quarter-finals. There have been no easy routes, and nowhere to hide for the two remaining men.

 

Path to the final:

 

Twenty-seven year-old Medvedev has spent upwards of 6 hours more court time than 21 year-old Sinner, with only one of his matches won in straight sets. He’s had four matches go longer than 3 hours, and on two occasions, played well past midnight, including his round 2 clash against Emil Ruusuvuori, which wrapped up at 3:40am.

The obvious question will be whether Daniil has spent his petrol tickets already, or whether he has one last push to try to claim his second Grand Slam title.

 

Daniil Medvedev:

Round 1: d. (Q) Terence Atmane 57 62 64 1-0 ret. Duration: 2:37

Round 2: d. Emil Ruusuvuori 36 67(1) 64 76(1) 60 - 4:23

Round 3: d. (27 seed) Felix Auger-Aliassime 63 64 63 - 2:09

Round 4: d. Nuno Borges 63 76(4) 57 61 - 3:07

Quarter-finals: d. (9) Hubert Hurkacz 76(4) 26 63 57 64 - 3:59

Semi-finals: d. (6) Alexander Zverev 57 36 76(4) 76(5) 63 - 4:18

 

Total time on court 20:33

 

Jannik Sinner:

 

Jannik has looked in extraordinary form right from the first round, and, save from dropping one tie-break to the world number one, Novak Djokovic, would’ve made it through to the final without dropping a set. If he wasn’t already confident after beating Khachanov and Rublev, the Djokovic victory must’ve lifted him to a new mental high. The question for Jannik, is whether or not he can come down from that, and focus on the final.

 

Round 1: 2:34 d. Botic van de Zandschulp 64 75 63 Duration: 2:34

Round 2: 1:43 d. (Q) Jesper de Jong 62 62 62 - 1:43

Round 3: 1:52 d. (26) Sebastian Baez 60 61 63 - 1:52

Round 4: 2:34 d. (15) Karen Khachanov 64 75 63 - 2:34

Quarter-finals: 2:39 d. (5) Andrey Rublev 64 76(5) 63 - 2:39

Semi-finals: 3:22 d. (1) Novak Djokovic 61 62 67(6) 63 - 3:22

 

Total time on court: 14:44

 

Head to Head:

 

The two have met 9 times, all on hard court. Interestingly though, 7 of the matches have been played indoors. Overall, Medvedev won the first 6, but as Sinner has developed as a player, he has gotten the better of the Russian, winning the last three encounters, including at the season end finals, just a few months ago.

 

Medvedev seemed unfazed when discussing those recent encounters…

 

“Yeah, in my opinion, there is nothing too much of a tactical change when he won the last three. He did a little more serve-and-volley, maybe a little more aggressive, but at the same time that's what he's doing against everyone. He's just playing better.

The three matches, all of them were tough. Two tiebreaks and two three-setters. I had my chances.

It was all of them were in the end of the season where I felt like I was not at my 100%, even if I was playing pretty good, but I was maybe at 97, 96. And against him, you need to be at 100.”

 

However, one thing we’ve learned about Medvedev over the last couple of weeks (if we didn’t know already…), is that he’s resilient!

 

“Mentally 100%, 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.

So mentally I'm stronger than before, and I'm happy about it. Probably honestly, it's better to be in the final winning three-set, four-set matches. That's the better way physically. But it is what it is, and I'm proud and looking forward to the final to give my 100% again.”

 

While Daniil has all the experience in major finals, having been involved in 5 previous deciders (for just the one US Open win), the fact it’s Jannik’s first final, doesn’t appear it’s going to faze him. Sinner has won 10 titles. He won the Davis Cup for Italy just 2 months ago. Jannik has played big matches, and he looks composed.

 

“I think you win the matches not only on that day. You win it because you feel prepared for a good fight. You feel prepared mentally and also physically. I think after last year, especially end of the year, gave me confidence that I could potentially do some good results in Grand Slams.”

 

Jannik won 70 matches on the tour last year. The second most of anyone. The only player to win more….Daniil Medvedev with 72. If we look at hardcourt wins last year, again, Daniil and Jannik hold the top two positions. This is the match-up we all should’ve seen coming when looking at the stats from 2023. It’s probably the most interesting and exciting match-up on paper we’ve had for a number of years at the Australian Open.

 

Prediction:

 

I feel the key to this lies in the opening hour. If Jannik comes out and plays like he did against Novak, Daniil could find himself down a couple of sets in quick time. Although he was able to fight back against Alexander Zverev, I feel at some stage, his legs are going to give out on him, and I don’t think a comeback from a set or two down is on the cards.

On the other hand, if Medvedev can throw everything at Jannik early, and take advantage of some potential nerves from the Italian, he might be able to get his nose in front, and then experience (or lack of it), may just come into effect.

 

In saying all that, I’m predicting a fairly dominant and professional performance from Jannik Sinner, and I think he’ll get it done in straight set, becoming the first Italian player in history to win the Australian Open, and the first Italian to win a major title in nearly 50 years.

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