Davis Cup: Italy first of four teams in Bologna, but could it be first among eight in Malaga?

Good, good blues. Mission accomplished. It wasn’t taken for granted a week ago. It had become over the weekend.

This Sunday frankly there could be no suspense, even if there were the usual banal comments like “The ball is round, you never know, the Swedes have beaten Argentina ”.

Matteo Berrettini could not have problems with the less strong of the Ymer brothers, Elias, and in fact in his ten service games he lost only six points. Two when he put in the first (38 times) and 4 when he put in the second (11 times). Impressive performance, although in the response phase he can always progress, as Vincenzo Santopadre observed in the video with me. But how could he lose? One break per set was enough for him to win 6-4, 6-4, break in the ninth game of the first set and in the fifth of the second to get through the practice comfortably. Obviously without running the slightest danger of a counterbreak. Elias is not Mikael. He runs there like day and night, as Jannik Sinner was able to verify later – at his expense – who lost against 24-year-old Mikael after six wins in Davis his unbeaten in singles: 6-4,3-6,6-3. In doubles Jannik had already lost 3 out of three times. But that Jannik was not the best Jannik had already been seen with Cerundolo, when despite the victory, 6-3,2-6,6-3, he was not at all convinced.

Fortunately, that victory by Berrettini and the consequent 1-0 over Sweden was enough for us to defeat the hypothesis that Sweden would succeed in the mission impossible to beat us 3-0: that is, the result that would have allowed them to close the “Bolognese” group in first place. , relegating us to the second and eliminating Croatia.

In exactly an hour and a quarter Matteo completed the file. Italy is first, Croatia is second. The two teams will be in Malaga where the final phase begins on November 22nd, even if Italy does not play against the United States until Thursday 24th, a holiday for the Americans: it’s Thanksgiving. A first obstacle certainly hard. Perhaps harder than the eventual second in the semifinals.

Croatia, who won 2-1 over Italy in Turin thanks to Gojo’s victory over Sonego and then the double Pavic and Mektic, as well as a finalist a year ago in Madrid (when the Russian squadron of Medvedev and Rublev won this year banned because of the Russian aggression against Ukraine), sara very formidable team if he brushes up Cilic alongside Coric and the usual Pavic-Mektic duo. But we certainly do not face it either in the quarters or in the hypothetical semi-final.

In the quarterfinals against the Azzurri the USA could field Tiafoe alongside Fritz and have a very formidable double in Sock and Ram. Who knows at the end of November, after the ATP finals in Turin, if the blue number 1 will still be Sinner or Berrettini instead?

There are still a couple of thousand points that could subvert every order, of the blues among them, of the blues with the other rivals who still aspire to play in Turin and who between now and November 14 will fight to conquer those three places that do not are still assigned because 5 are already booked by Alcaraz, Ruud, Nadal, Tsitsipas and Djokovic.

What if we beat the United States? We would either have Canada, which deploys Auger Aliassime but so far never Shapovalov, or Germany which has beaten Australia. This would be a challenge that could also be influenced by the state of form of Sascha Zverev: on the fast indoors there aren’t many who play better than him. He still has two months to recover from the condition. M.Struff # 2 is not worth our # 2, whoever it is. And even the Canadian # 2 Pospisil is not worth it. This is why I say it is more difficult to beat the US than Canada or Germany. And even with the US we would still be favorites, if we played today. But there are two months left and the situation can change

I confess that I was a bit confused by Sinner’s defeat with Mikael Ymer. It is clear that Jannik had not fully recovered from the trauma of the match lost with the matchpoint with Alcaraz. I had written, giving vent to my imagination, so many possible thoughts that could have crowded the mind of a 21 year old boy who had dreamed of winning his first Grand Slam, that he had reached the matchpoint against who would not have become world number 1 if he lost to him.

A Florentine over 70 and a South Tyrolean aged 21 belong to worlds that are too different for the thoughts that crowd the minds of one and the other to have anything in common. I rewrite you here mine surreptitiously attributed to him (without his approval of course and if he tells us his really tried ones I will report them to you.

We are going to lose a game even with the n.98 of the world, on the day when you don’t play well. And Jannik was the first to admit that he certainly didn’t play well. Without invoking alibis that maybe there are.

Tennis is now so leveled that the # 98 can very well beat the # 11 without anyone screaming at the scandal or mocking the loser as perhaps would have happened once.

I remember well the curses that as director of the Florence tournament – whose proceeds were closely linked to the presence of Panatta in the final stages – I found myself launching when in four editions of “my” tournament Panatta lost by Dibley, Benavides, Fagel and Winitsky, players (except perhaps the first, the Australian who had a great serve for the time, 177 km per hour! The rackets were wooden …), but then really the gap between those who were strong and the others it was wide, very wide. So the defeats of a Panatta out of condition because not trained, deserved some more blame. And I was angry. Much more than him.

Today, however, it takes very little to lose to a much worse ranked player. The borders are almost imperceptible. The depth of men’s tennis above all is remarkable. Number 100 was once almost more of an amateur than a pro.

All that being said, however … there is a but. Jannik won the second set, in general enthusiasm, with the audience calling his name, but nevertheless he quickly lost his serve in the first game of the deciding set.

He recovers the break, but suffers another one in the fourth game. He recovers that too … but he gets back to serve again for the third time in the third set and for the seventh in the match.

In short, on the day in which Berrettini loses in a match that counts for the passage from before the coffers 6 points in all, serving 75% of first balls, that is 3 out of 4, Sinner loses his batting game seven times ( not seven points, seven games) serving 53% of primes, that is, one out of two.

If the points scored with the serve also depend on the quality of the opponents – and as mentioned Mikael is of a different kind than Eliah – the percentages of first depend only on who beats.

Matteo, who is very much in danger of his first serve, constantly beating over 200 km per hour, has also served 78% of firsts in his life – the one with Elias was the fourth performance ever in terms of percentage – and there are those who define it as a robot for this ability that combines technique and concentration.

Jannik is still a long way off those percentages. She is working on so many things, that she also has a bit of confusion in her head.

Jannik explained – watch the video of his interview – that actually when you play a less important match you lack a bit of adrenaline, a bit of nervous energy. “I don’t want to take anything away from him, he’s a friend and he played very well” he said with appreciable fairplay. But it is certain that she played badly also because she did not feel super-motivation within herself. Although to be honest, this would have been more understandable if he had played on field 17 of some tournament in front of about fifty spectators. Gio When instead at home in front of an enthusiastic audience like the Bolognese one, it is strange that I did not feel the charge. Perhaps, as he also mentioned, it was the stress of the American trip, the bitter conclusion… even if at the beginning of the US Open he would probably have signed to reach the finish of the quarterfinals.

Even in the five break balls to reach 4 all in the third he was not really the best Sinner. Here, in my opinion Jannik – whose margins for progress so often happen to talk about – must improve above all in the management of the important points. First service game of a set, when it is used for the set or for the match, in one’s own and others’ break points. There, on those occasions, even if we have found ourselves as reporters many times even to acclaim his courage, he is still a little too fragile, too discontinuous. But he is young, 21 is a short time to reach the highest levels. Not everyone is Nadal. Roger Federer, born in 1981, also had a 2002 so-so, in the year of his 21 years, although he had already hinted in 2001 by beating Sampras his great talent.

Let’s give time to time, in conclusion. If the next two months were enough for him to make a big leap in quality, to present himself very solid and very strong in Malaga, better, much better for him and for everyone. To dream of winning a second Davis Cup, 46 from the first in Santiago, there is however not only 2022. With this team, in which not only Sinner must improve, and certainly will improve, dreams are not mirages.