Novak Djokovic is widely regarded as the sport's finest returner thanks to his wonderful court coverage and ability to read and anticipate the next shot better than everybody.
But for large patches of Friday's semifinal at the Australian Open, the Serbian's punchy return was far from usual as Sinner restricted him to zero break points in the match. It was definitely the one anomaly outside the final result in the stats sheet.
The writing had been on the wall from his previous match. Djokovic played two and a half hours against Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinal without getting a break of serve despite fashioning a whopping 15 breakpoints.
It was the first time in his career that he failed to win a return game with as high as 15 break-point opportunities. But it was clear that Djokovic made inroads, and he was going to get his reward for his persistence, which he did when he broke the American early in the third set of the match.
But against Sinner, Djokovic admitted to being "shocked" by his own level as he was slow from the get-go and did not get enough purchase on his return. Djokovic won a meager three points behind Sinner's first serve in the first set, which he dropped 1-6.
The second set was even worse, with Djokovic winning one point on Sinner's first delivery. Sinner served at an incredibly high level, showcasing his subtle improvements in his game thanks to his coaches, Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill, who have turned him into a colossal server.
The Italian had more aces than Djokovic and won 83% of the first-serve points during the whole match. The most striking stat on the break point column was that Sinner was 0/0 on break points saved because he did not face any.
It was the first time in Djokovic's Grand Slam career that he played a completed match and failed to manufacture a single break point. After the match, the 36-year-old was critical of his own game but credited Sinner for his masterful serving performance.
"Yeah, probably that stat says a lot. I mean, first of all, he was serving, he was serving very accurately precise, he was backing his serve very well. Yeah, myself, I just, yeah, I just -- it's hard to describe, you know, everything, I mean, we don't have that much time."
"There's a lot of negative things that I've done on the court today in terms of my game that I'm not really pleased with in return or, you know, movement or forehand, backhand. Everything, you know, was just subpar."