Jannik Sinner had the opportunity to eliminate Novak Djokovic. But not in this Sunday’s final, but last Thursday, when a defeat against Holger Rune would have meant the elimination of the world number one, who had hindered his chances by beating Hubert Hurkacz in three sets and not two. The Italian, in the third set, was five points away from falling. It was a break ball in favor of the Norwegian, who sent it to the hallway and succumbed a few minutes later. That flight of the butterfly, days later, led the champion trophy to Djokovic’s hands.
The Serbian fleeced Sinner (6-3 and 6-3), took his revenge and won his seventh title as a master, which breaks his tie with Roger Federer and serves to place another sky-high record on his shelf.
He did it before a wild audience, which celebrated his failures and with whom he had some scuffles, and against a Sinner whose head was thinking “I could have eliminated this guy.” He had it in his hand, he decided to play the sportsmanship card, pocket the 200 points and $390,000 for beating Rune and opt to win the tournament undefeated, a prize worth $4.8 million.
The supposed ‘biscotto’ that was rumored never happened and gave an extra life to Djokovic, who lost in a marathon with Sinner in the group stage, but who rarely loses twice in a week.
After the exhibition he gave against Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals, a level that seemed impossible to replicate, Djokovic overwhelmed the transalpine against all odds. Because the stands, full of the orange that dyes Sinner’s hair, celebrated like points every time Djokovic missed a first serve.
This infuriated the one from Belgrade, who does not shy away from a confrontation with the public, and when he served to win the first set, he stuck out his fist and showed it to the people in each of the points he won.
Impeccable with his serve
His service was exquisite, one of the weapons that explains why at 36 years old he has pulverized the tournament. Until the middle of the second set, when he led 3-2, he had only lost two points in the entire match (28 of 30). There Sinner had an opportunity to resurrect, a 15-40 to which he responded without putting the two remains on the court.
The Italian’s hand got stiff, as he led 4-3 against another 0-30, but he crashed again with the net and with long shots. He became afraid of competing in the match which explains why despite his immense talent he has not yet won a renowned title beyond the 1,000 Masters and why he does not even have a Grand Slam final.
This masters final was his opportunity to take the leap that Alcaraz, his contemporary rival, had already taken, but he trembled when he saw Djokovic in front of him. He beat him in the group stage, when the tension was lower, and gave up in the final, when the candidate was separated from the champion.
Djokovic closes the season with his seventh master’s crown, one ahead of the already retired Roger Federer, and puts the finishing touch to the course: three Grand Slams (Australia, Roland Garros and US Open), final at Wimbledon, two Masters 1,000 (Cincinnati and Paris-Bercy), a total of seven titles, more than 400 weeks at the top and number one at the end of the year for the eighth time.
He will begin 2024 with 2,390 points compared to Alcaraz in the ATP rankings and will aspire to a twenty-fifth Grand Slam in Melbourne. It’s hard to think that he won’t get it.