Italy claim ATP Cup advantage over Australians | Daily Central West

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Australian Max Purcell was outclassed by world number 10 Jannik Sinner as Italy drew first blood in their ATP Cup clash in Sydney with a 6-1 6-3 victory. Purcell was called in late after James Duckworth was forced to retire with hip pain and the 23-year-old substitute appeared to be a lamb to be slaughtered in the first set. The Australian rallied in the second set with aggressive net play, but Sinner managed to resist the retaliation. When it comes to replacement duties, it couldn’t have been much more difficult for Purcell, 23, who is ranked 176th in the world. Sinner 2021 ended with him becoming the youngest player to finish the year in the game’s top 10 since Juan Martin Del Potro in 2008. And the 20-year-old Italian made an early declaration of intent, smashing Purcell. twice to complete the first set in 29 minutes. Sinner continued in the same form in the second, shattering Purcell’s first two service games before the Aussie flipped a switch. Purcell was down 4-0 before breaking the Italian on either side of a serve to give hope he could return to the game. But just as the crowd started to stir with excitement, Sinner regained his composure to claim victory. “I felt really strong and I knew I had to play really solid on the baseline,” Sinner said. “When it comes to the net it’s very difficult to get past him. I tried to play deep and for my first game of the year it couldn’t have been better.” It is not yet clear whether Duckworth will be ready to return for the clash with Russia on Tuesday or Thursday against France. Alex de Minaur is set to face Matteo Berrettini in the final singles match, before John Peers and Luke Saville face Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini. Australian Associated Press

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