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Australian Open men’s final: Jannik Sinner looking to cap star rise with victory over marathon man Daniil Medvedev

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — For years, tennis has been searching for the players to fill the sizeable shoes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when all of the ‘Big Three’ finally hang up their rackets.

Carlos Alcaraz has emerged only relatively recently to pick up the torch as the leading star of the new generation, but Jannik Sinner now has the chance to join him at the head of the pack.

Sinner ended defending champion Novak Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak at the Australian Open, a run stretching back to 2018, to reach his maiden grand slam final, where he will face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev on Sunday.

The 22-year-old has always been lauded as one of the tennis’ most talented young players, but his ascension since the latter stages of last season has vaulted him into the upper echelons of the sport.

It was put to Sinner after his semifinal win that he, Alcaraz and Holger Rune seem to be having more success than the generation before them.

“I feel like that mentally everyone is different and [the] attitude on the court is different, but that, what I think we have in common is we believe in ourselves in one way, and this helps a lot because, in tennis, when you believe, it’s a huge amount already,” Sinner told reporters.

“But I think we have [been] really lucky to see him [Djokovic] around, that we can see what he’s doing, how he’s practicing. Hopefully, Rafa [Nadal] is coming back, so I can see also him. I had the privilege to watch him when I was in Adelaide with him. Roger, unfortunately, I have never had the chance to, but it is what it is.

“In another way, I feel like talking about my part is that I always try to learn from them and then trying to get something from them, no? This has been always my part of the process, and the process we are making is not finished yet because I feel like that we still have to improve a lot.”

Medvedev is part of that prior generation, but the Russian has previously enjoyed grand slam success as the winner of the US Open in 2021.

This is the 27-year-old’s third Australian Open final after losing to Djokovic in 2021 and Nadal in 2022, but Medvedev is now much more assured in his game, highlighted by his stunning semifinal comeback over Alexander Zverev.

It has been a marathon route for Medvedev to reach the final in Melbourne, playing three five-set epics and spending almost 21 hours out on the court so far.

The Russian even made light of his tough journey so far, writing on a courtside camera lens after his win over Zverev: “Not enough sleep but whatever.”

But Medvedev credited those tough matches for getting him through the semifinal.

“Mentally 100%, I’m stronger than I was before this tournament because now I know that I’m capable of some things maybe I thought I’m not,” he told reporters. “Because before, I didn’t do anything like this to get to the final.

“So mentally, I’m stronger than before, and I’m happy about it. Probably honestly, it’s better to be in the final winning three-set, four-set matches. That’s the better way physically. But it is what it is, and I’m proud and looking forward to the final to give my 100% again.”

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