Will the greatest player in the history of tennis (GOAT) be eliminated now? World No. 1 Novak Djokovici (37) of Serbia was eliminated in the semifinals of the Australian Open, his main stage.
Djokovic was beaten by Jannik Sinner of Italy in the semifinals of the men’s singles at the Australian Open tennis tournament (total prize money of 86.5 million Australian dollars, approximately 76.1 billion won) in Melbourne, Australia on the 26th. Sinner won the set score of 3-1 (6-1 6-2 6-7<6-8> 3-6) and advanced to the final of his first major tournament.
Defending champion Djokovic lost in just three hours and 22 minutes. His official move to the semifinals of the Australian Open = win did not work for the 11th time. After losing 0-3 to Chung in the round of 16 in 2018, his record of 33 consecutive wins at the Australian Open, which had been going on for six years, has also been put on hold.
If Djokovic had won the title this time, he would have set a record of 25 wins, the most ever in a major tournament. Already the biggest winner among male players, Djokovic is tied with Margaret Court (retired, Australian) for 24 wins in women’s singles.
However, he failed to overcome the fierce challenge from the 14-year-old Shinner. Djokovic had 54 unforced errors (mistakes), almost twice that of Shinner (28). Considering that Djokovic is famous for making no mistakes, he displayed a lack of concentration in the game. Djokovic made four serve-double faults while Shinner made just one.
Initially, Djokovic was the strongest candidate to win the title at this year’s event. Last year, he swept three grand slams including the Australian Open, the French Open, and the U.S. Open, showing off his strong performance. Notably, the Australian Open was like a stronghold that Djokovic won 10 times.
Djokovic, however, bowed to the young Sinner’s strength and speed. Djokovic lost to Sinner at the group stage of the ATP Tour Finals last year, which was leading by four wins and no losses, and also lost at the Davis Cup, a national competition. As he lost the Australian Open, he is in danger of reversing his opponent’s performance. Again this time, Djokovic was lagging behind Sinner’s power to 43 to 80 in scoring within four pitches.
Djokovic, the last pride of the so-called “Big Three,” who has dominated the world tennis world for more than 20 years, is also showing signs of retreating from the trend of the years. Roger Federer (retired, Switzerland), born in 1981, also went downhill after winning his last major tournament at the 2018 Australian Open at the age of 37, while Rafael Nadal (38, Spain) has also been suffering from various injuries since the 2022 French Open at the age of 36.
However, Djokovic showed off his solid performance until last year, but is showing signs of an aging curve this year. Djokovic, who had raised concerns over wrist injury even before the Australian Open, failed to advance to the semifinals in the end.
After the match, Djokovic admitted his defeat, saying, “I think it’s one of the worst Grand Slam matches so far,” adding, “I commend Sinner for doing everything better than me in every way.” Regarding whether he has an aging curve, he said, “I don’t know, but I’ve never lost in the semifinals or finals of the Australian Open, so I’m not familiar with it because it’s a little different this time,” but added, “I still have high expectations for all competitions, including major competitions and the Olympics, so let’s wait and see.”
Djokovic is recognized as the best player in world tennis history. It remains to be seen whether he will follow the steps of Federer, who retired first, and Nadal, who is considering retirement, or prove his solid performance at the French Open in May.