In the seventies, Nicola Pietrangeli, Paolo Bertolucci, Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti were the backbone of the nation’s tennis and it was that team which won the Cup for Italy in 1976. Now, 47 years later, a new team has emerged to revive the spirit of that era by becoming the 2023 Davis Cup champions, with Jannik Sinner leading the group which also includes Lorenzo Sonego, Matteo Arnaldi, Lorenzo Musetti and Sione Bolelli, plus the recovering Matteo Berrettini.
It has been an incredible feeling for all of us, obviously we are really happy, Jannik Sinner
The final saw the Italians defeat Australia 2-0 with the singles rubbers claimed by Arnaldi and Sinner for an historic victory.
Arnaldi got the Italians off to a strong start with a 7-5 2-6 6-4 victory over Alexei Popyrin thereby placing the Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur under intense pressure to keep Australia in the tie and a chance at the title in the doubles.
“I won one of the most important matches in my life. I don’t know what to say right now,” an emotional Arnaldi said on court after his victory.
Unfortunately, Sinner who was still high after defeating the world No.1, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in both the singles and doubles the previous day, was in no mood to be generous as he swept his counterpart aside 6-3 6-0.
“It has been an incredible feeling for all of us, obviously we are really happy,” Sinner said as the team celebrated their win. “[A] huge thanks to Matteo Berrettini. He’s had a very, very tough year with a lot of injuries and it means a lot to all of us that he came here with his positive energy.
“We kept everything together. Yesterday, we were one point from being out and now we can celebrate the win. I think we can all be very, very happy.”
Musetti, who would have played in the doubles if required, added: “It was one of my dreams. We made it happen. Jannik Sinner and Matteo Arnaldi today were amazing. We really deserved it so I’m really, really happy and proud.”
Australia was bidding for a 29th Davis Cup title but had no answer for the Italian’s aggressive approach as they slumped to back-to-back final losses having been beaten by Canada 2-0 12months earlier.
Sinners’ dismantling of De Minaur was indeed impressive as the 22-year-old has now lost just three of his last 23 matches, winning titles in Montpellier, Toronto, Beijing and Vienna, and beat world number one Djokovic in the round-robin stages of the ATP Finals, losing to the Serbian in the actual final.
He in fact defeated Djokovic twice in three meetings over a two-week period, saving three match points when facing him in the Davis Cup semis.
The importance of their victory after such a lengthy gap was marked by the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni who posted on X (formerly Twitter): “A historic result – congratulations to our players for the talent and commitment they have shown and also to all the staff.”