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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, November 26, 2023


Jannik Sinner crushed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-0 clinching Italy’s first Davis Cup championship in 47 years with a 2-0 triumph over Australia in Malaga, Spain today.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty for ITF

A spirited Sinner is Italian savior.

Jannik Sinner demolished Aussie Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-0 sealing Italy’s first Davis Cup championship in 47 years with a 2-0 triumph over Australia in the Davis Cup final in Malaga, Spain today.

More: Sinner Shocks Djokovic

Striking crackling shots, Sinner surged through the final eight straight games overpowering the Aussie for his sixth victory over de Minaur in as many meetings and his 64th win of a spectacular season.

"It has been an incredible feeling I think for all of us and obviously we are really happy," Sinner said. "We kept together everything and obviously yesterday we were one point away from being out and now we can celebrate the win.

"I think we can all be very, very happy."

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The 22-year-old pride of San Candido, Italy grew up a champion junior skier and grew into the baseline commander leading Italy to its second Davis Cup with a heroic performance throughout the week. Sinner raised his record to 20-2 indoors in 2023.

Channeling poise and power, Sinner scored three of his biggest career wins in a 24-hour span.

Yesterday, Sinner saved three match points sparking a three-game surge shocking world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to level Italy with Serbia, 1-1, in the best-of-three-match Davis Cup semifinals. Sinner snapped Djokovic’s 21-match Davis Cup singles winning streak 11 days after ending the Serbian superstar’s 19-match winning streak at the ATP Finals in Turin.

The fourth-ranked Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego went on to defeat Djokovic and Miomir Kecmanovic in the decisive doubles to cap a brilliant comeback and send the nation into the final.

The man who has moonlighted as a Gucci model has been a model leader for captain Filippo Volandri’s inspired Italian squad, which captured its second Davis Cup championship and first since 1976 when legends Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti led Italy past Australia in the semifinals and to a 4-1 victory over Chile in the final.

"We did it and we did it like a family," Volandri said. "We kept close throughout."

Clearly, a deeply disappointing end for Team Australia and de Minaur, but the man nicknamed Demon should hold his head high for leading the Green-and-Gold to its second straight Davis Cup final. Ultimately, de Minaur was just overmatched by an overwhelming Sinner, who is playing his best tennis.

In today’s opener, Matteo Arnaldi showed guts attacking on pivotal points to edge Alexei Popyrin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 staking Italy to a 1-0 lead.

It was a gritty effort from Arnaldi, who squandered three match points bowing to Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(7) in a two hour, 52-minute thriller that opened Italy’s quarterfinal win over The Netherlands on Thursday.

“It’s just something crazy," Arnaldi said. "We are a big group and we support each other a lot I think you can see during the match how emotional all of us were watching.

"It feels like we always dreamed.”

Struggling to tame his forehand at times, Arnaldi amped up his aggression at the end, made some timely volleys and saved 13 of 16 break points, including all eight break points he faced in the final set.

“I was just doing my thing,” Arnaldi said. “I didn’t play much in the last few weeks so I was happy after the first match even if I lost.

“I think now I won one of the most important matches of my life so I don’t know what to say right now. Jannik is always ready and we are ready so I can’t wait to have a quick shower and come back to cheer for Jannik.”

Winless in five prior meetings vs. the harder-hitting Sinner, credit de Minaur for trying to turn on the aggression and show the world No. 4 something different.

Three games into the match, Sinner countered a de Minaur slice with a deeper slice backhand approach coaxing a long lob to break for 2-1.

Exploiting the quick court conditions, Sinner shrewdly hit successive diagonal forehands behind the speed Demon backing up the break for 3-1.

Working the width and depth of the court, Sinner streaked through a love hold for 4-2.

The crackling Sinner diagonal forehand was a damaging weapon in the set. Sinner smacked deep forehands earning triple set point on de Minaur’s serve.

One final backhand helped Sinner seize the 46-minute opener on the strength of his second break.

"I think probably Novak said maybe a week ago, Jannik is riding this amazing wave of confidence," de Minaur said afterward. "He's playing in indoor conditions with some heavy balls where he can hit the absolute crap out of the ball.

"He's seriously impressive the level he's showing."

Sending the Aussie scurrying side-to-side, the pace and depth of Sinner’s drives gave de Minaur little operating room. When the Aussie slapped a shot into net, Sinner broke for a 2-0 second-set lead.

Showing his all-court acumen, Sinner was not only beating up de Minaur from the baseline, he was hitting rockets on the run as well.

A sliding Sinner rapped a brilliant backhand pass down the line for a second break point. Banging out a netted backhand, Sinner broke with a clenched fist—his sixth straight game—for a 4-0 lead.

A free-flowing Sinner slashed his fifth ace to power to a 5-0 lead.

On Italy’s third championship point, Sinner drew a wild backhand igniting an Italian celebration 47 years in the making.

Understandably, both Arnaldi and Popyrin were tight at the outset given the stakes. There was probably even more pressure on Popyrin knowing Italian No. 1 Sinner was 5-0 lifetime against Aussie No. 1 de Minaur.

Bolting a backhand down the line, Arnaldi followed with a full-stretch forehand return winner down the opposite sideline for triple break point.

Popyrin erased the first two break points but sailed a backhand on the third as Arnaldi broke for 3-1.

First blood did not settle the Italian’s nerves. Arnaldi followed with a sloppy game, committing a pair of errors and a double fault to face triple break point. Popyrin pounced, breaking back at love for 2-3.

Showing his creativity, Arnaldi lofted a lob and attacked behind it flicking a forehand stretch volley winner. That special sequence helped the Italian earn triple set point on Popyrin’s serve.

On the third set point, Arnaldi gifted a forehand error down the middle—his third straight forehand error—and Popyrin pumped an ace and a serve winner denying all three set points for 5-all.

Fired up by that stand, Popyrin looped a lob in the corner and drew another netted forehand for double break point in the 11th game. Arnaldi withstood the stress test saving both break points and punching a forehand volley for 6-5.

Though the Italian’s forehand was hit-and-miss for patches of the set, he found the forehand when it mattered most. Arnaldi crushed a forehand winner down the line that helped him earn set point. Spinning a running forehand into the corner, Arnaldi scored his second break to take the 55-minute opening set.

Flipping the script, a proactive Popyrin broke to open the second set and blocked a high forehand volley for a 2-0 lead.

Dancing around his backhand, Popyrin spun an inside-out forehand winner breaking again for 3-0.

Popyrin served out the second set to force a decider after 90 minutes.

Arnaldi slipped on the Davis Cup logo behind the baseline falling on the seat of his shorts to face break point in the first game of the final set. Arnaldi laced a forehand to save it, eventually holding.

Pressure was excruciating in the final stages with both men showing serving guts when tested.

Facing a break point in the ninth game, Arnaldi slid his fifth ace wide to save it, navigating an arduous hold for 5-4.

Serving to extend the match, Popyrin didn’t immediately adjust to a net-cord shot and sent a forehand long to face a match point. Arnaldi bolted a backhand pass down the line a lunging Popyrin could not control to end a nervy two hour, 27-minute win.

Italian teammates, including Matteo Berrettini, Simone Bolelli and Lorenzo Musetti mobbed Arnaldi in a victory embrace before Sinner took the court to hit the nation into history with its second Davis Cup.

“I’ve played this competition for 15 years and today was maybe the greatest emotion of my career,” said former Australian Open doubles champion Simone Bolelli. “I have to say this team is incredible and champions…Amazing day. Amazing.”

The Italian tennis renaissance continues to flourish. Weeks after an Italian team led by Jasmine Paolini and Martina Trevisan reached the Billie Jean King Cup final, the Italian men captured their first Davis Cup in 47 years.

Italy is the 10th different nation in the last 10 years to lift the Davis Cup.

Don't discount the Italians from becoming the first nation since the Czech Republic in 2013 to successfully defend the Davis Cup—if Captain Volandri can bring the entire squad back and get a healthy Berrettini back in the line-up.


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