Novak Djokovic suffered his first Australian Open loss after passing the quarter-final stage, falling to Jannik Sinner 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in three hours and 22 minutes. Thus, Djokovic failed to claim his 11th Australian Open title, not reaching his A-game during the Melbourne fortnight and hoping for a better run in the remaining Majors of the season.
Tim Henman believes there is no need to turn on the alarm bells, praising Novak and naming him the favorite at every tournament he enters. As the Briton explained, you must have a day off after winning ten titles and playing 100 matches at a single event.
Djokovic came to Melbourne following the United Cup loss to Alex de Minaur, and he did not make a convincing start at his beloved event. Struggling with a minor virus, Novak struggled against Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin, beating them in four sets.
Djokovic felt better in the third and fourth rounds, serving well and ousting Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Adrian Mannarino for a place in the quarter-final. The Serb had to dig deep in the opening two sets versus Taylor Fritz, losing the second set but raising his level when the sun went down to oust the American and move into the semi-final.
Novak had a perfect record in the Australian Open semi-finals before Jannik ended that streak following a rock-solid performance. Djokovic could not impose his strokes, falling short in the quickest exchanges up to four strokes and spraying over 50 unforced errors.
Also, Sinner did not face a break point in the entire clash, delivering Djokovic's worst return performance in completed matches at Majors!
The Italian secured five breaks from 11 opportunities, squandering a match point in the third set before toppling the Serb in the fourth, ending Novak's streak of 33 straight Melbourne Park wins. Sinner was off to a great start, securing a break in the second game with a forehand drive-volley winner.
Djokovic ended his downfall in the fifth game, saving a break point and reducing the deficit. Jannik pushed strong on the return in game six, welcoming Novak's backhand error and opening a 5-1 advantage. Sinner produced another fine hold in the seventh game, wrapping up the opener 6-1 in 35 minutes and gathering a boost.
Tim Henman backs Novak Djokovic to bounce back after the Melbourne loss.
Novak served at 75% in the second set and still lost serve two times, unable to follow the rival's pace. Jannik secured a break in the third game and cemented the advantage with a service winner in the next one, leaving world no.
1 far behind. Djokovic sprayed a forehand error in the seventh game, falling further behind and allowing Sinner to serve for the set at 5-2. The Italian produced another reliable hold in game eight, opening two sets to love advantage after 73 minutes and moving closer to the finish line.
Novak saved a break point in the first game of the third set, producing a vital hold and recovering his game, at least behind the initial shot.
They served well in the remaining games, with Djokovic holding after deuces in game 11 and Sinner introducing a tie break with a smash winner a few minutes later.
Novak led 4-2 before Jannik bounced back and landed a forehand winner for 5-4. Djokovic stayed focused, landing a lob winner for 5-5 before facing a match point after Sinner's service winner. The Serb erased it with a forced error and stole the breaker 8-6, extending his chances after two and a half hours.
Jannik played confidently and left the setback behind, starting all over in the fourth set and sticking to his game plan. Djokovic denied two break points in the second game, staying on the positive side. However, Sinner pushed strong on the return at 2-1 from 0-40, earning a break point after Djokovic's costly double fault.
Novak played a wayward backhand, losing serve and sealing his fate. Jannik overcame rare deuces in the fifth game, cementing the break and forging a 4-1 advantage. Sinner clinched the seventh game at love, delivering a vital hold and forcing Djokovic to serve to stay in the match.
The defending champion held at love with a forehand winner, prolonging the duel and seeking one last return chance at 3-5. Sinner stayed focused at 15-30, landing two powerful serves for a match point and sealing it with a forehand down the line winner, celebrating his first Major final at 22.
Djokovic's next tournament is Indian Wells, returning to the first Masters 1000 event of the season for the first time since 2019.
"When you set the bar high, there is only one way to go.
As Novak explained, he played one of his worst matches at Majors. However, after ten titles and 100 matches, you will naturally play poorly at some stage. I do not think there are any alarm bells around Novak's game. He is still the favorite at any tournament he enters," Tim Henman said.