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Bowlby’s Breakdown: Jannik Sinner has arrived

The Australian Open has long been one of the most hard to win tournaments in all of men’s tennis. 

“The Big Three” composed of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafeal Nadal have combined to win 17 of the last 19 titles and at least one of them has been in the final every year since 2006.

That, of course, changed this year. Since Federer has been retired for a while now and Nadal is dealing with injury problems, Djokovic was the only of the three to participate in this year’s tournament.

Coming into this season, all eyes are on Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. Because of their similar ages and prowess, they have been made up to be the future of tennis and the next great rivalry.

Tennis fans have already been treated to a few epic battles, and this year’s Australian Open was the first major step in the career of Sinner.

Watching Sinner over the last couple of years, it has been clear that he will be a significant part of men’s tennis for the next decade and beyond.

However, through the first few years of his career he has fallen just short in many high-stakes matches. Semi-finals at last year’s Wimbledon just couldn’t get past Djokovic, or the thrilling five-set loss at the 2022 U.S. Open to Alcaraz.

Since Sinner started to show flashes of what he can be, it was never a question of if he will win majors, but rather when. So far, Sinner has been able to get to the big match no problem, but finishing them off has been more challenging. 

All of that changed over the weekend when Sinner became just the second man – outside of the big three – to win the Australian Open since 2006.

Sinner didn’t do this by knocking off unknown players making their first appearance at a major. He beat some of the world’s top talents, and in all but two of the seven wins, he did so in straight sets. 

He cruised through the first five rounds of the tournament winning 15/15 sets and only being forced to play one tiebreaker. 

Then, the semi-final matchup with Djokovic. In the past Sinner had beaten Djokovic, with the most recent coming just a few months ago in the Davis Cup. The other win was in the round-robin round at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals.

Djokovic, coming into the final Sunday, was 2-0 head-to-head in majors with both matchups taking place on the grass at Wimbledon.

After what had already been an impressive run, undoubtedly it was difficult to think Sinner was going to find a way around the 24-time major champion. Yet, he did.

Sinner came out and stole the first two sets only dropping three total games. The moment began to feel real, Sinner was a set away from his first major final, but Djokovic wouldn’t go away and took the third set in a tiebreak.

Immediately, you can imagine Sinner had a flashback to the 2022 Wimbledon meeting when he had a two sets to none lead that he ultimately couldn’t close. 

However, in 2024, that meltdown didn’t happen. In fact it was quite the opposite, and it’s a culmination of what he has been through over the past two years and the work he has put in to become mentally tougher and physically stronger. 

As mentioned, Sinner has had his fair share of gut-wrenching losses, but 2024 has started with a set of potential career-defining wins. 

This year couldn’t have started better, a dominant tournament run that includes a victory over the greatest of all time, a two-set comeback in a major final and of course the first slam victory of the season.

Success with the talent Sinner possesses will likely carry over for the coming weeks, months and years. 

Andrew Bowlby is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of  The Post. Want to share your thoughts about the column? Let Andrew know by tweeting him @andrew_bowlby.

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