Australia stun Italy 2-1 in first match

John Peers and Luke Saville completed the Australian turnaround on Sunday at the ATP Cup to give the home nation a lift-off in Group B here. The pair downed Matteo Berrettini and Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5 to secure a 2-1 victory for Australia against Italy in front of a lively crowd that was fully engaged following Alex de Minaur’s win over Berrettini in the second singles rubber.

Peers and Saville rose to the task throughout against the Italian duo, saving a set point on serve at 4-5 in the second set as they won the last nine points of the match to triumph after 84 minutes.

Australia play Russia next

Australia will next face reigning champions Russia on Tuesday, while Italy play France, with both ties on the Qudos Bank Arena.

Earlier, home favourite De Minaur lifted the roof off Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday when he kept alive Australia’s opening tie hopes against Italy. De Minaur, 22, earned his fifth Top 10 win of his career as he upset World No.7 Berrettini 6-3, 7-6 (4) in Group B. “This court brings out the best in me,” an emotional De Minaur said. Reflecting on a tough 2021, he added, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down. It’s about how many times you get knocked down and get back up.”

De Minaur ready for big year

“The whole career I have had a couple of setbacks, but look, I am back,” De Minaur said. “I worked really hard to be here, I am in the best shape of my life and I am ready to have a big year.”

De Minaur was impressive on return throughout, stepping inside the baseline to make good contact from Berrettini’s delivery as he dictated points with his powerful forehand. The World No.34, who won two tour-level titles in 2021, is making his third ATP Cup appearance, earning victories against Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov in 2020.

Earlier, Jannik Sinner had produced a comprehensive performance on his ATP Cup debut to give Italy a 1-0 lead against hosts Australia. Sinner, 20, struck his groundstrokes powerfully and dominated the longer rallies to defeat Max Purcell 6-1, 6-3.

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