Fans capped off a spellbinding men’s final at the Australian Open by indulging in a treasured national tradition: mercilessly booing the Prime Minister.
Anthony Albanese was present in the crowd at Melbourne Park on Sunday night to see 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner recover from two sets down to claim his first grand slam title, beating Russian Daniil Medvedev 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3.
“Congratulations to Aryna Sabalenka and Jannik Sinner on your incredible victories in the Australian Open,” Mr Albanese posted on social media afterwards.
“Well done to the Australian Open team on a fantastic tournament that brought record crowds to Melbourne.”
The fans who formed part of that record crowd at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday were in a typically uncharitable mood towards the country’s leading politician.
While Mr Albanese’s presence went relatively unnoticed throughout the lengthy final, loud jeers rang out during the trophy presentation, when MC Todd Woodbridge announced he was in the arena.
The booing continued for Victoria’s Deputy Premier, Ben Carroll, and was sustained for long enough for Woodbridge to shush the crowd with a polite: “Thank you.”
The moment did not go unnoticed.
“About that crowd reaction to Albo at the Australian Open final…” Dr Kerryn Phelps, the former MP for Wentworth, noted on social media.
“How about the boos for Albo? Never change, Australia,” said political commentator Caleb Bond.
They were among a number of people online expressing either amusement or bemusement.
In the actual tennis, Sinner has pulled quite the unthinkable comeback, winning a five-set epic that lasted the better part of four hours.
The 22-year-old looked overawed early as Medvedev dominated early, but he showed nerves and courage far beyond his years to bounce back.
Sinner became the first ever Italian to win an Australian Open and the first Italian man since Adriano Panatta won the French Open in 1976 to claim a grand slam title.
He’s just the fifth Italian grand slam champion behind Nicola Pietrangeli, Pannatta, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.
Aussie champion Lleyton Hewitt was blown away by Sinner’s mental fortitude, which enabled him to come back from the brink of a crushing defeat.
“Unbelievable,” Hewitt said.
“The mental strength in your first major to go down 2-0 still have the inner belief that he was able to turn it around somehow, the two first sets were incredible tennis.
“Medvedev did nothing wrong. He played faultless but Jannik Sinner was able to dig deep, stay with him and I think it helped serving first in that third set, he served a lot better as the match went on.
“Medvedev spent so much time on court over these two weeks and sinner looked fresher as the match got deeper and he got better and better and what a performance.”
It was a cruel blow for Medvedev, who fell to a 1-5 record in grand slam finals, and for the second time lost despite racing to a two-set lead.
He lost the 2022 Australian Open decider to Rafael Nadal from the same position and is now the first player to have lost multiple grand slam finals after leading two sets to love.
The longer the match went, the worse his odds became. Medvedev actually broke the record for the longest time on court in a grand slam, surpassing Carlos Alcaraz’s 2022 US Open tally of 23 hours and 40 minutes.
Medvedev finished with an astonishing 24 hours and 17 mins of court time.
The time on court appeared to wear on Medvedev as it opened a door for Sinner after the Russian’s electric start.
Having played for six fewer hours heading into the final, Sinner was clearly the fresher player and, in the end, romped home.
It completed an outstanding fortnight for Sinner, who before the final had only dropped his first set of the tournament against Novak Djokovic in the semi.
“(Sinner) has been definitely the best player in this tournament from a levels standpoint all the way through to the final. All tournament long,” Jim Courier said during the fourth set.
“Medvedev has been battling just to stay afloat in these matches and Sinner has been dominant, the only person to take a set from him, the 10-time champion. Just crushed everybody else.
“He has found that level again here with the help of Medvedev pulling off the throttle.”
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