Davis Cup: Italy 'family' crowned world champions

Jannik Sinner spearheaded Italy to their first title since 1976 with a 2-0 triumph over 2022 runners-up Australia

Italy Davis Cup 2023©Mathias Schulz / Zuma / Panoramic
 - Alex Sharp

It's taken 47 years in the making, but Italian men's tennis rules the world once again. 

Everywhere from juniors, to ATP Challengers, to Grand Slams, Italy has a true presence at the top of the game. Now they are Davis Cup champions.

Malaga, Spain, was the location for their first Davis Cup triumph since 1976, under the guidance of captain Filippo Volandri.

The crucial buzzword being 'family' as the champagne started to flow following a 2-0 scoreboard over Australia on Sunday evening.

"Jannik gave us a lot of things. We don't have enough time to explain how many things he gave us, but all the guys here and the guys that are not here right now gave us a lot of things," stated former world No.25 Volandri.

"That's why we manage, that's why we really won this trophy - being close, playing as a family."

Sinn-sational from the fox

Jannik Sinner's standout 2023 season couldn’t have had a better finale.

The 22-year-old has truly established himself as a leader of the pack. Take his ATP Finals campaign in Turin : Sinner defeated world No.1 Novak Djokovic in three hot-shot laden sets in the group stages, before succumbing to the history-chasing Serbian in the trophy showdown.

Undeterred, Sinner transferred his recent scorching form to Malaga to fly his nation's flag.

It was a pretty spectacular week from the world No.4. Sinner was perfect with a five-from-five record across singles and doubles.

During Saturday's semi-final with Serbia, Sinner was three match points down (4-5, 0-40 in the decider) to Djokovic and blazed to a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 triumph. To emphasise the magnitude of that escape, Djokovic had never lost holding consecutive match points.

A few hours later and Sinner, alongside Lorenzo Sonego, had toppled Djokovic (with Miomir Kecmanovic) again in the doubles to earn that final ticket. What an accomplishment, Sinner is the real deal.

Into Sunday's final, Sinner exemplified his sensational end of season form to dismantle Australia's Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-0 in just 81 minutes. Time for team Italy to party.

Now, that is some 24 hours in the life and career of Sinner.

"This is something different, something really special, because you don't play for yourself but you play for the whole team," said Sinner.

"This is a really important win for me and for the whole team and Italy together, no? We felt the pressure. We had a lot of responsibility. But still we managed. We stand up for it. We were excited. Obviously, everyone is really happy about the end result.

"I came here with confidence and throughout the whole month. I played coming from Turin, I gave 100 percent, all what I had, and I think the whole team, they pushed every one of each other, and this is maybe our key why we are standing here with this trophy."

Strength in numbers

Twice Volandri's men recovered from a match down to prevail 2-1 over Czech Republic in the quarter-finals and the same versus Serbia in the final four.

Pushing each other, fighting for each other, that's what families do. Well, the Italy team's camaraderie matched their quality.

Sonego clinched two decisive doubles victories with Sinner. "We're a big family," said the singles world No.47. "It's an emotional moment. I'm really proud to be a part of this incredible team."

Lorenzo Musetti was in the mix. Matteo Berrettini, despite an injury-ravaged season, joined on the sidelines and was hailed by Sinner for his "positive energy." Davis Cup stalwart Simone Bolelli was on standby.

Everyone in Volandri's ranks played their part.

Matteo makes his mark

It was another 22-year-old who sent Italy on their way to the trophy lift in Sunday's opening clash.

Matteo Arnaldi dug deep to fend off Australia's Alexei Popyrin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, which proved to be an extra special triumph for the youngster. 

"It's very emotional, more because a very important person passed away a month ago for me and my girlfriend so this is for him. It was very emotional to play in this event for me," said Arnaldi, dedicating the win to his girlfriend's late father. "I think he gave me the power to try to stay there, to win the match."

Family is the word once again.