John Peers and Luke Saville completed the Australian turnaround Sunday at ATP Cup to give the home nation lift-off in Group B in Sydney.
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 will next face reigning champion Russia on Tuesday, while Italy plays France, with both ties on Qudos Bank Arena.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Earlier, home favourite De Minaur lifted the roof off Ken Rosewall Arena Sunday when he kept alive Australia’s opening tie hopes against Italy at ATP Cup.
The 22-year-old 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.”
The 22-year-old demonstrated great agility and grit in his first match of the season and recovered from squandering a 5-3 lead in the second set to triumph after 86 minutes, levelling their ATP Head2Head series at 1-1.
“My 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 home nation Australia.
The 20-year-old struck his groundstrokes powerfully and dominated the longer rallies to defeat Max Purcell 6-1, 6-3 in 64 minutes on Ken Rosewall Arena to earn his first victory of the year.
“It was a great match from my side,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “I am very happy to have the first point for Team Italy and hopefully Matteo can finish it today. I felt very, very solid. I knew I had to play solid from the baseline because when he comes to the net it is very, very tough to pass him, so I tried to play deep. For the first match of the year, it could not have gone any better.”
Sinner enjoyed an impressive 2021 season, earning four tour-level titles and cracking the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings. The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion, who struck 13 winners and committed just three unforced errors against Purcell, is Italy’s No. 2 singles player at the 16-team event and will next play Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech on Tuesday.
ATP Cup format sees the No. 2 singles played first, with the No. 1 singles following. Doubles, with no-ad scoring and a match tie-break in place of a third set, is the final rubber of the tie.
Semi-final Qualifying Scenarios
If Australia defeats Russia and Italy defeats France, Australia wins the group and advances to the SF
If Russia defeats Australia and France defeats Italy, Russia wins the group and advances to the SF
No team can clinch the group by winning their next tie. USA and Great Britain winning their next tie would set up a winner takes all on day 6.