Mission impossible: Jannik Sinner tries to break Novak Djokovic's streak

The Italian champion will try to dispel the taboo: no one has ever beaten Nole in the Australian Open semifinal

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Mission impossible: Jannik Sinner tries to break Novak Djokovic's streak
© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

How much could the abdominal problem suffered by Jannik Sinner in the match against Andrey Rublev have an impact on the Australian Open 2024 semifinal against Novak Djokovic?

The young Italian talent qualified among the best four in the Melbourne Major, beating his Russian colleague in straight sets, demonstrating remarkable mental strength, indicative of his constant improvements.

In the second set of the match against the Russian, an alleged abdominal problem worried the Italian and his entire team. Sinner, however, tried to reassure everyone during the post-match interview with Jim Courier.

"I honestly don't know what it was, I'll see with my team, but I think maybe I ate something wrong before the match. Now it's over. It was just a little air in the belly, let's hope everything is ok. It was important to experience some key moments in this match. I canceled a lot of break points before the tie-break and therefore played points with a lot of pressure. Many have gone in my favor and I am very happy about this.

I had prepared myself to face a complicated match. Winning a crucial set like the second helps you, but I'm happy to have overcome the difficult moments well. I think I managed these phases of the match in a positive way," said the Italian, before focusing on the next match with Novak Djokovic.

Sinner© Cameron Spencer / Staff Getty Images Sport

Sinner has defeated the Serbian champion on two of the last three challenges: it is impossible to forget the three consecutive match points canceled out in the Davis Cup match between Italy and Serbia.

"It will be nice to test myself against him again. Now I will rest, I will hit some balls but I will try to be fresh. Playing against the number 1 in the world in a Slam semi-final is always a great opportunity to grow. It won't be easy but I can control only one thing, myself. And I will give one hundred percent," he told.

If the problem was related to something intestinal, such as something in the food, then there should be absolutely no problems for the semi-final on Friday. On the contrary, if it was a muscular problem, then the situation would need to be evaluated.

Example. If it were a diaphragm problem, in theory it wouldn't be anything serious, in view of Friday's semi-final. If instead there was a problem with the muscle, then the issue would be more serious. Today Jannik trained regularly: this means that his problem was probably not of a muscular or tendon nature, but due to something in the food he ate.

Now Sinner will try to do something that no one has ever managed to do

Djokovic will play the 11th Australian Open semifinal of his career on Friday. For Sinner, a feat awaits him to reach his first final in a Slam tournament.

Djokovic, in fact, played 10 times in the semifinals at the Australian Open and on all 10 occasions he won and reached the final. And not only. Because then he always won the tournament too. Zero defeats for the Serbian, in the penultimate act of the tournament.

Djokovic's first semi-final in Australia dates back to 2008, the year of his first final triumph against Joe Wilfried Tsonga. Djokovic defeated Roger Federer for 7-5 6-3 7-6, in the semifinals. Then, in the semi-final of 2011, Nole once again beat the Swiss Maestro. The score for the Serbian was 7-6 7-5 6-4. In 2012, the current ATP No.1 defeated Andy Murray 6-3 3-6 6-7 6-1 7-5.

unknown© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

There was no story in the semi-final of the 2013 Australian Open when the Spanish David Ferrer paid the price, defeated 6-2 6-2 6-1. Novak then returned to the semifinals in the 2015 edition when he beat Swiss Stan Wawrinka in 5 sets, 7-6 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0.

In 2016, Roger Federer was once again beaten by the Serbian champion: 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 was the final score of that year. The 2019 semi-final was completely dominated by Djokovic, who literally overwhelmed Lucas Pouille 6-0 6-2 6-2. The Serbian's eighth semi-final came in 2020 and the opponent was once again Roger Federer: needless to say, Djokovic won in three sets: 7-6 6-4 6-3 the final score.

In 2021 the semi-final was a surprise: winning 6-3 6-4 6-2, Djokovic defeated the Russian Aslan Karatsev. Finally (after missing the 2022 edition due to the ban imposed on unvaccinated people from entering Australia - ed.) in the 2023 edition Djokovic defeated the American Tommy Paul 7-5 6-1 6-2. It should be reiterated that every time Djokovic reached the semifinals at the Australian Open he not only won that round but he always won the tournament.

Jannik Sinner's attempt to put an end to this record and interrupt this winning streak.

Jannik Sinner Novak Djokovic Australian Open