Following a brilliant start to the 2024 Australian Open championship match, the tenacious World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev suffered a heartbreaking loss to the first Italian player to win the Slam in tennis history, Jannik Sinner, Sunday at Melbourne Park.
It was a brutal and brilliant showdown between two of the most talented players in the Open Era who built opposite runs to reach the same destination, the Australian Open championship match.
Medvedev made his third AO final appearance in the past four years, falling to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in 2021.
In 2022, Rafael Nadal turned around the matchup, and like Sinner in 2024, he fought back from two sets down, sentencing a historic 22-time Grand Slam championship after a thrilling five-setter.
However, the former world number one rose from that devastating defeat to the Spaniard, continuing to build a career that has seen him wrapping up 2023 on a high.
The 27-year-old captured five titles, including a maiden Masters 1000 crown on clay in Rome, claiming 66 victories after competing in 22 tournaments.
In addition, he achieved the final at the US Open, beaten by Djokovic, who avenged the defeat he suffered at the hands of the Moscow native in 2021, Medvedev’s lone Slam to date.
And despite tasting the same bittersweet feeling that only comes with defeat, unlike 2022, the 20-time tour-level titlist reflected on seeing history repeating itself at Melbourne Park, finishing runner-up, from a different perspective.
During his post-match press conference, he shared: “Yeah, different feeling, different circumstances, I would say. Now, I’m dreaming more than ever, probably not today, but in general, in life.
“But I would say, it’s not anymore a kid who is dreaming. It’s me, myself right now, a 27-year-old who is dreaming, doing everything possible for my future and my present. I love it.”
“That’s why I made it to the final. I wanted to win. I was close. Was I really close or not? Tough to say, but [I] was not far. The scoreline is similar, but I think the match would be a bit different.”
In the lead-up to the AO final against the eventual first-time Slam champion, Medvedev had been on court for over 20 hours, more than any other player had spent at a major in tennis history.
“I was fighting, I was running. I was like, if I don’t feel my legs tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to try everything I can today until the last point, and I did it,” Gilles Cervara’s pupil added.
“And there were some points at the end where he was not - I mean, adrenaline going, but he didn’t seem as tired as my opponents before; he started playing better.”
“I got a little bit tired. Serve went a little bit worse. So the momentum changed, and I really tried, in my mind, to change it back again because that’s what tennis is about.”
Throughout his campaign at the Australian Open, Medvedev played 24 hours and 17 minutes across 31 sets, the most of any player in the Open Era.
Meanwhile, the highest-ranked Italian man of all time at World No. 4, tied with legendary Adriano Panatta, the only Italian to ever win a Slam back in 1976 at the French Open before Sinner, wouldn’t be denied the triumph.
And to become the first Italian in 48 years to win a major men’s singles title, he stayed perfect, taking 15 of the 16 sets he played en route to the final - dropped one set before stunning defending champion Djokovic in the semifinals.
From the onset, the 22-year-old delivered world-class tennis with his all-round game all tournament, physically and mentally untouchable.
The runner-up looks forward to the future, stressing: “I’m really going to try to make everything possible with myself, with my mind, for this loss not to affect my future tournaments and seasons because that’s part of sports.”