Sport Australia starts ATP Cup with shock 2-1 victory over Italy
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Australia starts ATP Cup with shock 2-1 victory over Italy

Alex de Minaur overcomes Matteo Berrettini to level Australia's ATP Cup tie against Italy. Photo: AP
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John Peers and Luke Saville have led Australia to an upset victory over Italy with a 6-3 7-5 doubles win over Matteo Berrettini and Simone Bolelli on Sunday night.

“I thought we were at a great level tonight,” Savile said of the host nation’s opening Group B encounter.

“I’ve loved being a part of this group and this team this week.”

Earlier, Alex de Minaur fired back for Australia by defeating Berrettini 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to set up a winner-takes-all decider in the doubles.

 

The 22-year-old Australian equalled the biggest win of his career, downing the world No.7 in just under 90 minutes.

De Minaur, who is ranked 34th in the world, looked to be heading to a straightforward victory when he went up 5-3 in the second set, before Berrettini threw a spanner in the works and forced a tiebreak.

The Australian had four match points and came good on the third to seal the win.

“This is what you work hard for, to play on your home court in front of your friends and family playing for Australia,” said an emotional de Minaur.

“There’s no greater honour and it brings out the best in me.

“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 again.

“That’s what I want to keep doing. I didn’t have the best year (in 2021), I had some setbacks, unlucky events and COVID, but I’m back and I’m ready to have a big year.”

De Minaur’s straight-sets victory squared the tie at 1-1, after Italy’s world No. 10 Jannik Sinner brushed Australia’s Max Purcell aside in a 6-1 6-3 win.

Purcell was a late call-up following James Duckworth’s withdrawal from his match with Sinner due to hip soreness.

The 23-year-old, who is ranked 176th, looked to be a lamb to the slaughter in the opening set against Sinner.

The Australian rallied in the second set with some aggressive net play, but Sinner, 20, was able to withstand the fightback.

Underdogs before the tournament, Australia next faces defending champions Russia on Tuesday with renewed hope of making the quarter-finals.

De Minaur will be up against world No.2 Daniil Medvedev, who, despite suffering a shock loss to Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the singles, teamed up with Roman Safiullin in the doubles to claim a 2-1 victory for the Russians earlier on Monday.

It remains unclear whether Duckworth will be ready to return for the clash with Russia on Tuesday or Thursday’s match-up with France.

-AAP