Italy’s Davis Cup hero Jannik Sinner said it was a “special feeling” to end his team’s 47-year drought in the competition on Sunday in Malaga.
Sinner beat Alex de Minaur in straight sets in the second singles rubber after Matteo Arnaldi scraped past Alexei Popyrin to earn his country their second trophy with a 2-0 win over Australia.
Sinner, ranked fourth, played a key role, winning all five of his rubbers, including two against world number one Novak Djokovic and Serbia on Saturday.
The 22-year-old said he would like to take Italy to further success in the competition if he can, but that winning it for the first time was wonderful.
“We are all very young, we are really hungry to try to win it one more time in our life, but in another way, you know, having this feeling at least once, it is a really special feeling,” Sinner told reporters.
The Italian said his team triumphed because the group pushed each other on in search of their country’s first Davis Cup since 1976. Sinner arrived after losing the ATP Finals title to Djokovic last Sunday.
“I played coming from Turin, I gave 100 percent, all I had,” added Sinner.
“I think the whole team, they pushed each other on, and this is maybe our key, why we are standing here with this trophy.”
Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt was disappointed after finishing runners-up for a second consecutive year but hailed the superb Sinner.
“Jannik, he’s played awesome all week, the last few weeks, to be honest, the last few months,” said Hewitt.
“So he showed why he’s a top three or four player in the world at the moment. “He backed up what he did yesterday against Novak and played extremely good tennis.”
De Minaur also acknowledged Sinner’s superb form, which saw him win titles in Montpellier, Toronto, Beijing and Vienna this year.
“I think probably Novak said maybe a week ago, Jannik is riding this amazing wave of confidence,” said the world number 12.
“He’s seriously impressive (with) the level he’s showing.”
Australian players have vowed to return to Malaga and claim the title next year.
De Minaur also featured in last year’s loss to Canada in the final at the same arena and the world number 12 took solace from how well Australia had performed since the finals format was changed to the best of three rubbers.
“There hasn’t been another nation that’s gone back-to-back in the last two years, so we are showing a pretty good effort collectively,” he told reporters.
“We are very, very close and it stinks like hell but, like I said last year in this same position, we’ll be back. We’ll get this. I mean, we’ve got a very, very strong future ahead of us.”
Australia won the last of their 28 titles in 2003 and have reached the last two finals without the talents of Nick Kyrgios, who is currently sidelined by injury and last played Davis Cup in 2019.
Hewitt has forged a strong team bond between the likes of De Minaur, world number 40 Alexei Popyrin and the 55th ranked Jordan Thompson as well as the doubles pairing of Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell.
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