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Italy end 47-year wait for second Davis Cup crown

Italy end 47-year wait for second Davis Cup crown
© Reuters
Italy end a 47-year wait for a second Davis Cup title with a 2-0 win over Australia in Sunday's final in Malaga.

Italy were crowned Davis Cup champions for only the second time and ended a 47-year wait for another international honour with a 2-0 win over Australia in Sunday's final.

The Azzurri - who won their first Davis Cup crown all the way back in 1976 - stunned Novak Djokovic's Serbia in the semi-finals to earn a date with 28-time winners Australia, who had finished as runners-up in 2022.

Despite being significantly outgunned on the experience front, Filippo Volandri's team saw Matteo Arnaldi defeat Alexei Popyrin 7-5 2-6 6-4 before Jannik Sinner sealed glory with a 6-3 6-0 thrashing of Alex de Minaur in Malaga.

Italy's long-awaited triumph saw the champions set a new record for the largest cap between a nation's first and second Davis Cup successes, while only Great Britain (79 years between 1936 and 2015) and France (59 between 1932 and 1991) have waited longer in between titles.

After suffering defeat to Botic van de Zandschulp in Italy's quarter-final beating of the Netherlands, 22-year-old Arnaldi was not involved in his nation's semi-final triumph over Serbia but justified his selection for the championship match with an exceptional defensive display.

Popyrin brought up a mammoth 16 break points over the course of their two-hour and 27-minute contest, but Arnaldi remarkably saved 13 of them and posted six fewer unforced errors in an encounter that could have easily gone either way.

The pair traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the opening set, and despite wasting three chances to close out the opener in the 10th game on Popyrin's serve, the Italian broke his foe again in the 12th.

However, a disastrous serving episode from Arnaldi gifted Popryin a route back into the match, as he fell 4-0 down in the second set and could not recover, being left to lament five double faults.

Nothing could separate the duo in the decisive third set, but Popyrin fatally squandered a break point in the ninth game and subsequently lost serve while trying to stay in the match, putting Italy on the cusp of glory.

Having already emerged triumphant from his engrossing slog with world number one Djokovic, Sinner came into his tie with De Minaur as the overwhelming favourite to propel his nation to Davis Cup crown number two, despite his opponents' praiseworthy number 12 ranking.

The ATP Finals runner-up laid down an early marker with a break in the third game, and De Minaur only brought up one chance to get the contest back on serve, which he failed to capitalise on before being broken again in the ninth.

What followed in the second set was nothing short of an annihilation from Sinner, who missed two championship points at 5-0 up, but a De Minaur double fault presented the Italian with a third chance to etch his nation's name on the trophy, and the Australian sent a final backhand wide of the tramlines to end Italy's agonising wait for title number two.

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Italy's Jannik Sinner in action at the Davis Cup finals on November 25, 2023
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