Italy fulfilled their potential as one of the most promising tennis nations in the world by defeating Australia 2-0 to become Davis Cup champions for the first time since 1976.
In the first match between the second-ranked players in Málaga, 22-year-old Matteo Arnaldi narrowly defeated Alexei Popyrin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 to secure the first point for Italy. Continuing his impressive performance from the previous day where he defeated Novak Djokovic twice, Jannik Sinner once again showed great composure as he finished off the best two weeks of his career by dominating Alex de Minaur with a score of 6-3, 6-0.
“This victory is significant for both myself and the entire team, as well as Italy as a whole, right? We definitely felt the weight of the situation,” stated Sinner. “We had a lot of expectations to meet, but we rose to the challenge. We were enthusiastic and ultimately, everyone is thrilled with the outcome.”
The initial match was intense, with high stakes for both teams due to the strong performance of Sinner and the Australian doubles duo. Arnaldi and Popyrin, who are relatively inexperienced and have not reached the top 35 rankings, were suddenly faced with a monumental event that they were not ready for in their careers.
Arnaldi’s determination and determination were the deciding factors in the competition. Despite being outplayed in the third set, the Italian faced multiple break points in his service games and ultimately a total of eight. His only easy hold in the set was when he was down 15-30, while the Australian sailed through his own service games.
In an impressive display of courage, Arnaldi managed to maintain control of his serve and successfully defended against break points. This caused Popyrin to feel the pressure of the scoreline for a significant portion of the set. However, Popyrin’s downfall came in the form of a single poor game while trailing 4-5, ultimately leading to Arnaldi’s victory. When questioned about his win, Arnaldi admitted he was unsure how he managed to come out on top.
“I didn’t play very well,” he admitted. “The second and third sets were some of my worst this year. However, it was crucial for me to stay focused and give my best effort on every point.”
Due to Sinner’s impressive recent performances and his record of 5 wins and 0 losses against De Minaur over the past four years, the 22-year-old was heavily expected to win the match.
Sinner initially had a hesitant beginning, but quickly settled into his groove. He aggressively went for shots from both sides of the court, hitting winners from all angles and dominating the match. Despite De Minaur’s progress this year, he lacks the necessary weapons and diversity to throw off Sinner’s precise game. De Minaur’s efforts to take the ball early and go on the offensive ultimately played into Sinner’s strengths, allowing him to capitalize on the speed he thrives on.
Sinner ended an astonishing few weeks with a stream of brutal, untouchable winners, underlining his arrival at the top levels of the sport and his ability to fight for, and win, the biggest titles in the world.
As the Italian team rushed onto the court to jubilate their championship win, they also issued a cautionary message. The team’s members, Sinner and Arnaldi, are both 22 years old, while Lorenzo Musetti is 21. Additionally, there are five other Italians ranked in the top 200 who are under 22. On the sidelines sat an injured Matteo Berrettini, a former world No. 6 and 2021 Wimbledon runner-up. This is just the beginning.