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MELBOURNE, Australia – Jannik Sinner was not about to announce the end of the “Big Three” after his breakthrough Grand Slam triumph at the Australian Open, but the 22-year-old Italian does believe tennis needs a fresh generation of champions.
His five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev on Sunday, January 28, made him the first Melbourne Park winner in 10 years not named Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Roger Federer – the trio of multiple champions who have dominated tennis for two decades.
Djokovic’s incredible success into his mid-thirties has delayed the decline of the “Big Three” but with Federer now retired and Nadal looking set to join him this year, a huge gap is opening up at the top of the game.
With his Melbourne triumph, Sinner has joined 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Grand Slam winners’ club, spearheading a clutch of players of a similar age coming through.
“It’s quite unpredictable what’s coming in the future but still it’s nice to be part of this generation,” Sinner said as he was photographed with his trophy in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens on Monday.
“I think the next generation is something that this sport needs and it’s also a little bit of a game-changer.”
Sinner was the youngest Australian Open men’s champion since Djokovic won the first of his 10 Melbourne Park titles in 2008, and even though he beat the 24-time Grand Slam champion in the semifinals, the Italian was not inviting comparisons.
“He is a different league,” he said. “I’m just happy I have this trophy for this year and then we see what’s coming. There is still a lot of work to do but I will enjoy my process and then we see what I can achieve in the future.”
As impressive as the clean hitting that has taken Sinner into the elite of men’s tennis was his cool demeanour on court on Sunday as he withstood an early barrage from Medvedev before rallying from two sets down to clinch the title.
Although he fell to the Rod Laver Arena court after converting championship point, there was no huge outpouring of emotions as Sinner celebrated the biggest victory of his career.
“There were so many emotions in my head and the hard work and the sacrifices I’ve done throughout my career,” he explained.
“Sharing this moment with my team was maybe the best feeling I’ve had until now.”
“It’s great emotions, I was just happy, yesterday I still maybe couldn’t believe and now I’m starting to realize it, so it’s a great feeling.”
Sinner said he celebrated his dream start to the new season in understated fashion – a meal with his close-knit team in the early hours of Monday morning – but said it would be straight back to work as he looked to build on his breakthrough.
“Obviously winning the tournament is something unbelievable,” he said. “I’m really happy how I performed here and let’s see what’s coming in the future.” – Rappler.com