Australian Open champion star Jannik Sinner has been captured in a brilliant moment at a Dubai airport, while making his way home after a history-making triumph at Melbourne Park. The Italian became the first tennis player from his country to win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after beating Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev in an extraordinary come-from-behind win for the ages on Sunday night.
Sinner came from two sets down to stun the Russian and clinch his first major singles trophy in one of the most thrilling men's finals in recent times. After taking part in the obligatory trophy photoshoot at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens the next day, Sinner soon began the long process of returning home to Italy.
'THIS IS PATHETIC': Uproar over 'shameful' scenes after Aus Open final
The 22-year-old's trip home included a stop-over in Dubai, where the Australian Open champ was spotted by another passenger checking his luggage through security. Among the Italians possessions was a large and bulky green carry bag that clearly had the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup inside it, much to the delight of Sinner's fellow traveller.
“Things that weren’t on my 2024 bingo card: meeting Jannik Sinner in Dubai Airport security as we both sorted out our hand luggage," the passenger wrote on social media alongside a photo of Sinner carrying the green bag. "His carry-on bag being the actual Australian Open trophy (!) made the electronics and liquids in my tray look very unimpressive.”
things that weren’t on my 2024 bingo card: meeting jannik sinner in dubai airport security as we both sorted out our hand luggage
his carry-on bag being the actual australian open trophy (!) made the electronics and liquids in my tray look very unimpressive 💔 pic.twitter.com/cmpXTfQ7HJ
— Katie Bevan (@katiebevano) January 30, 2024
Jannik Sinner returns to hero's welcome in Italy
When Sinner did eventually return home he was greeted with a hero's welcome, with RAI state TV broadcasting his arrival before he was whisked to a private meeting with Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni. Sinner and the PM posed for photos as they held aloft together first the Australian Open trophy and then the Italian flag. Sinner was also congratulated on his victory by Pope Francis earlier in the week.
Good to see Jannik Sinner spending some of his day with the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni today.pic.twitter.com/Vrl0CxVUwO
— Pavvy G (@pavyg) January 30, 2024
The fanfare around the Italian came after the 22-year-old found himself at the centre of backlash for pulling out of the upcoming ATP 250 event in Marseille, starting in less than one week. Considering his incredible run to his first grand slam final and career major trophy in Melbourne, it's understandable that Sinner would want some time to wind down and enjoy his momentous triumph.
However, organisers of the Marseille event didn't see it that way and originally reacted to his withdrawal from the tournament by making an announcement on social media that read: “Sinner snub." Following backlash against the tournament, the post was later changed from "snub" to "withdrawal", with organisers of the Open 13 Provence event later admitting they had overreacted.
Officials from the ATP 250 event revealed that they were in discussions to have Australian Open semi-finalist and World No.6 Alexander Zverev replace Sinner in the draw. Unfortunately for the Marseille tournament, it's the second year in a row that Sinner has pulled out, with illness forcing the Italian to withdraw last year.
The Australian Open champ is next scheduled to compete in Rotterdam in a couple of weeks, where he could once again lock horns with Medvedev. Both men made it to last year's Rotterdam final but on that occasion it was the Russian that clinched the title after coming from a set down to win in three.
Following his victory against the Russian in the Australian Open decider, however, Sinner has now won four straight matches against the World No.3. The Italian's recent record against top-10 players is also hugely impressive, with 10 victories and just won defeat in his last 11 matches - including three wins out of his last four against 24-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.