Novak Djokovic’s perfect semifinal record at the Australian Open has been broken following a defeat on Friday.
Jannik Sinner, a 22-year-old Italian, played nearly flawless tennis and ended the 10-time champion’s unbeaten streak, earning himself a place in a Grand Slam final for the first time on the back of Friday’s triumph. Djokovic had won all 10 semifinals and all 10 finals he’d played previously on Rod Laver Arena, but Friday was the young star’s moment in the spotlight, besting the 36-year-old Serbian in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory.
Sinner, the fourth seed, becomes the youngest player to reach the men’s final in Australia since Djokovic’s first title in 2008. He will play either Daniil Medvedev, seeded 3rd, or Alexander Zverev, seeded 6th, for the championship on Sunday.
“He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely,” Djokovic said after the match. “First of all, he was serving very accurately, precise, he was backing his serve very well.”
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With the win, Sinner has now beaten Djokovic in three of their last four head-to-head encounters and this win comes on the heels of Djokovic winning a straight-set in last year’s Wimbledon semifinals.
“It gives you a better feeling when you know that you can beat one player,” Sinner said following Friday’s performance. “It’s always nice to have this kind of player who you can learn from.”
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He added: “I lost last year in the semifinals in Wimbledon and I learned a lot from that. The confidence from the end of last year has for sure kept the belief.”
As for Djokovic, his performance was far from his best, he admitted after the game.
“Look, 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. Yeah, I guess this is one of the worst Grand Slam matches I’ve ever played. At least that I remember.”
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“There’s a lot of negative things that I’ve done on the court today in terms of my game that I’m not really pleased with in return or, you know, movement or forehand, backhand. Everything, you know, was just subpar.”
Djokovic only lost one Grand Slam match last year — the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz.
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Djokovic’s semifinal exit on Friday keeps his bid for a record-extending 11th Australian and 25th major title overall out of reach — for now.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.