Italy Celebrates Winning First Davis Cup Title In Nearly Five Decades Like A Family

Team Italy, 2023 Davis Cup champions (photo: ITF video)

MÁLAGA/WASHINGTON, November 27, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

After Jannik Sinner capped his perfect week of tennis by leading Italy to its first Davis Cup title in nearly five decades, it was time to celebrate.

Soon after Sinner (5-0 at the Davis Cup Finals in singles and doubles) defeated Australia’s Alex de Minaur, 6-3, 6-0, in the second singles match of the final in Málaga, Spain, giving Italy an emphatic 2-0 win for its first Davis Cup title since 1976, Sinner was surrounded by his Italian teammates as well as team captain Filippo Volandri. Even injured star Matteo Berrettini made his way on to the court after sitting behind Team Italy’s bench during the final. Together, they were a big happy family.

During a brief, on-court interview before the trophy ceremony, each player shared their thoughts about what winning the Davis Cup meant to them.

“[Winning the Davis Cup] was one of my dreams,” said Lorenzo Musetti, who at age 21 was the youngest member of the victorious Italian squad.  “I’m really happy for us.”

“Today was an amazing day, one of the most special of my career,” said Simone Bolelli, 38, the oldest of the Italian players. “I am happy to be a member of this team.”

“We supported each other,” said Matteo Arnaldi. “I think you could see during the matches how emotional we were.”

“I am happy. These guys are like family. It was an emotional moment for me and for this team. I am happy to be a part of this incredible team,” said Lorenzo Sonego.

Huge thanks to Matteo,” said Sinner. “He’s had a very tough year with a lot of injuries. It means a lot to us that he came here for all of us. He gave us a lot of positive energy. Thanks Matteo.

“All the time, we kept everything together. Yesterday, we were one point away from being out. Today, we get to celebrate the win. We are very, very happy.”

“I’m really proud of these guys” added Volandri. “We [won] like a family.”

“Jannik gave us a lot of things,” Volandri would explain later on during Italy’s press conference. “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. That’s why we manage, that’s why we really won this trophy.”

There were plenty of emotions that flowed among Sinner, Arnaldi, who had given Italy the first point of the championship tie with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 win over Alexei Popyrin; Musetti, Bolelli and Sonego. Soon, after they received their medals and took turns lifting the Davis Cup trophy, there were Champagne bubbles that flowed among the Italian heroes, too.

“This is a really important win for me and for the whole team and Italy together, no?” said Sinner, who finished the season with a personal-best 64 victories, including three in Málaga, against No. 23 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, and No. 12 de Minaur. He also teamed with Sonego to contribute clinching points in doubles against the Netherlands and Serbia.

“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,” added Sinner, very wise for being just a 22-year-old rising star of tennis.

At long last, Italy had won its first Davis Cup title in 47 years. When the Azzurri last won, in 1976, Nicola Pietrangeli was Italy’s non-playing captain, and its stars included Corrado Barazzutti, Paolo Bertolucci, and Adriano Panetta. Pietrangeli, now 90, was on hand to see Italy win on Sunday and joined this year’s champions on the podium. It was a passing of the trophy from one generation to another.

While the World No. 4 Sinner proved to be the difference maker for Italy, he made a point more than once to emphasize the importance that being a team meant in their overall success.

“This is something different, something really special, because you don’t play for yourself but you play for the whole team,” he said. “I think every one of us, we were really excited to be part of this. I have to thanks all the team to come through in Bologna where I was not able to play there.

“They had some very tough and difficult time there. They stand up for this, and I came here with confidence, no, 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.”

Sinner expressed encouragement about Italy’s Davis Cup future. After all, the Italians will be a favorite to repeat their 2023 success next year in Málaga.

“We know that we have a lot of potential in each of our players, also the captain and everyone. I think we are all really young, except … Simone,” he said.

Everyone broke into laughter in kidding about Bolelli’s age. Only he and Sonego, 28, among the five suited for the final, were alive the last time Italy played in a Davis Cup final, in 1998.

“[Simone] has played this for 15 years. So, he gave us a lot of experience in one way, and I think the player who is playing the match sees this kind of thing. Matteo, who came for us, was really important,” said Sinner.

“Let’s see. We are all very young,” added Sinner. “We are really hungry to trying to win it one more time for our life, but another way, you know, having this feeling at least once, it is a really special feeling.”

By the numbers

On Sunday, Italy won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1976 and just the second time in the country’s history. It became the 11th nation to win multiple Davis Cup titles.

“Quotable …”

“I cannot explain what I’m feeling right now. When I got in the court, I was nervous like always, but I think after I won the first set, more pressure came up, and I think you could see it. I didn’t play my best tennis, but I think the results is what matters.

“At the end, I played well in the important moments, and I think was important for us, for the team, to win the match, to win my match, so I’m really happy, and I hope I help the team.”

Matteo Arnaldi of Italy, whose win over Alexei Popyrin set the stage for Jannik Sinner and helped lead Italy to its 2-0 victory over Australia.