United Cup

Musetti Extends Italy's Lead After Trevisan Wins Epic Against Sakkari

Italy leads Greece 2-0 in United Cup Final Four
January 06, 2023
Lorenzo Musetti remains unbeaten at the United Cup with a straight-sets win on Friday evening.
Matt King/Getty Images
Lorenzo Musetti remains unbeaten at the United Cup with a straight-sets win on Friday evening. By ATP/WTA Staff

After Martina Trevisan won an epic against Maria Sakkari on Friday, Lorenzo Musetti extended Team Italy's lead over Team Greece to 2-0 in the United Cup Final Four.

Musetti maintained his perfect record at the mixed-teams event (4-0) when he defeated Stefanos Sakellaridis 6-1, 6-1 in just 62 minutes. The No. 23 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings won 53 per cent of his return points to give his country a commading lead.

World No. 803 Sakellaridis earned one of the most memorable victories of the group stages when he upset Belgium's Zizou Bergs. The 18-year-old appeared primed to make another splash, this time in Sydney, when he earned a break point in the opening game of the match. But Musetti hit a timely drop shot and finished off the point with a forehand volley. From there, the 20-year-old never looked back.

Musetti's strokes were heavier than his opponent's, and he showed far more consistency. That proved a winning formula for the Italian, who gave Matteo Berrettini a chance to close out the tie on Saturday evening against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Lucia Bronzetti is scheduled to face Despina Papamichail in the No. 2 women's singles match.

"Martina was not the only one playing tonight, because with her I think [was] all the entire squad maybe. I think it's probably the best match so far in this competition for us, because [it] was really stressful even from our side," Musetti said. "I was playing in the gym. I was imitating her and I was complaining when she was missing, and I was fighting with her. I was giving my support from the gym. That's I think what a teammate has to do, especially with Martina.

"As I said on court, we are really close friends, even outside of this competition. So the meaning of the win for her, I'm really, really happy, because I think she deserves it."

Italy lost its City Final in Brisbane against Poland. But after earning a place in the Final Four as the best-positioned runner-up, the country has taken full advantage. The winner of the tie will face Team United States or Team Poland (Team United States leads 2-0).

Martina Trevisan
Photo Credit: Tennis Australia/James Gourley
In the first match of the tie, Martina Trevisan pulled off a milestone hard-court win by upsetting Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5.

At three hours and 15 minutes, the match was the longest of the tournament so far, and was the third Top 10 win of Trevisan's career. However, it was by far the Roland Garros semi-finalist's finest performance away from the terre battue: she had previously never defeated a Top 50 player off clay, nor even taken a set from a Top 20 player.

"I'm very happy. I'm very happy, because I think it's the one incredible match for me on the hard courts. I'm very happy with the way I fought today, having Vincenzo and Matteo close to me helped me a lot. Also my teammates helped me a lot," Trevisan said. "But I'm happy because I kept the energy for all the match. It was very difficult, because I wanted [it] so much, the match was so long. But I think the key was I kept the energy for all the match."

But Trevisan did have a win over Sakkari to draw on, a 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 triumph in the third round of Roland Garros in 2020, when she saved two match points. The World No. 27 didn't need to do that here, but she did manage to bring her scintillating clay-court game to a rapturous Ken Rosewall Arena.

World No. 6 Sakkari scored the first break of the match, but her game was as inhibited as Trevisan's was free-flowing. From 0-2 down, the Italian surged through eight of the next nine games to lead by a set and a break, a passage of play characterised by fierce forehands and thrilling passing shots from Trevisan — and ill-timed double faults and volley errors from Sakkari.

But the Greek battled back in the second set after denying Trevisan a 3-0 lead with a booming return. Staying with her opponent in more high-octane rallies, Sakkari wrested the momentum and moved up to a 5-3 lead. Crucially, she didn't let her failure to serve out the set halt this, and a series of superb backhands saw her edge the ensuing tie-break.

Fortune was with Trevisan in the decider when a dead net cord handed her the first break for 3-2. But so was her first-set form, and the 29-year-old dazzled the crowd with fine touch at net, delicate drop shots and her signature bold forehand.

Sakkari responded well, levelling at 4-4 thanks to some more spectacular backhand angles. But Trevisan remained inspired to the end, pummelling her forehand to break again at 5-5 and then serving out the match at the first time of asking. 

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