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Sinner v Medvedev: How the AO 2024 men's final was decided

  • Matt Trollope

Jannik Sinner weathered an early onslaught to reel in Daniil Medvedev, growing in potency to win the Australian Open 2024 final – his first Grand Slam singles title.

The AO 2024 men’s final was extraordinary in that one player began it fast, strong and assured, while the other ended it in identical fashion.

MORE: All the stats from the AO 2024 men’s final

Daniil Medvedev could not maintain his scintillating start on Sunday night, while first-time major finalist Jannik Sinner simply grew in strength as the five-set contest progressed.

We examine how it started, how it flipped, and how it concluded.

Aggressive onslaught

Known for his preference to counterpunch and extend rallies, as well as his impressive engine, Medvedev surprised everybody with the manner in which he opened Sunday night’s final.

Rather than return serve well behind the baseline, he pushed up and met Sinner’s serve with intent. 

He landed 86 per cent of his first serves and won 84 per cent of those points, streaking through service games and not facing a single break point.

Daniil Medvedev came out on the offensive

He took charge of the baseline rallies, playing unusually aggressive tennis and nearly tripling Sinner’s winner count (14-5).

After just 36 minutes, he had the first set in his pocket.

Sinner shell-shocked

For a player who rips some of the biggest groundstrokes in the game and is comfortable dictating, Sinner seemed unprepared for this dynamic.

There was only one match – his semifinal win over Novak Djokovic – in his previous six at AO 2024 during which he trailed the winner count (and that was only just, 32-31).

As his unforced error count approached 20 and far outweighed his winner tally, Sinner found himself down 6-3 5-1.

The shift

Yet by this point, the sting was starting to recede from Medvedev’s game.

Early in the second set Medvedev was averaging 77 per cent of first serves in for the match, and towards the end of it this figure had dipped to 65. Isolating those figures to the second set alone, he managed to land just 50 per cent. 

Broken for the first time in the seventh game, Medvedev nevertheless managed to cement a two-sets-to-love lead.

Jannik Sinner ups his game

But in the third set, the complexion of the match completely shifted.

Medvedev’s groundstroke speeds, which as he began the match were almost 10 km/h faster than his tournament average, began to decline.

Sinner, seeing that Medvedev was flagging physically, also began to extend points.

In the fourth set, the duo played out 20 long rallies (9+ shots), significantly more than any other set. During that set they also combined for almost 2000 metres of distance covered.

The final set had an average rally length of 6.15 shots, also higher than the match average of 5.57.

Grand Slam tennis a long game

What had come before explained what was happening now.

Medvedev had spent more than 20 hours on court in his previous six rounds, the equivalent of almost two more matches than Sinner (who had spent less than 15 hours on court in advancing to the final).

It might have explained why Medvedev came out so aggressively in the opening set, in a bid to keep points short. 

Needing solutions

"(Medvedev may have been thinking) 'if I go back against this guy and give him time on the ball to generate with his forehand, I'm going to be covering a serious amount of court all night'. (He's often happy to do that) but tonight he wasn't,” said Simon Rea, former coach of Nick Kyrgios and Sam Stosur.

"Whether that's physically, or just tactical, I don't know.

"When you're out of your comfort zone, or at the absolute limit of what you're capable of producing, even that can be exhaustive… to repeat that, point in and point out, over a period of time, can wear you down.”

Sinner loosens up

As Sinner settled, and Medvedev flagged, the Italian’s game surged. 

During the shift, Sinner’s forehand was gathering speed, having increased from an average of 122.3 km/h in the first set to 128.7 km/h by the third.

And by the fourth set, he was the player dictating, posting figures unrecognisable to those in the first set. 

Back then, the winner count was 14-5 in favour of Medvedev. In Set 4, it was 15-8 to Sinner. 

Harder to measure was the sound Sinner’s racquet was making upon contact with the ball. Inside Rod Laver Arena, his shots sounded increasingly meaty as they cracked off his strings. 

Physically and mentally on top as the match progressed to a fifth, Sinner broke in the sixth game and built a 5-2 lead.

Two games later, he crunched a monstrous 166km/h forehand winner to seal his first Grand Slam victory.