Van de Zandschulp beats Arnaldi to give Netherlands 1-0 lead over Italy in Davis Cup

The Dutch world No 51 fought back from a set down to defeat 22-year-old Matteo Arnaldi and hand his team the perfect start in their Davis Cup quarter-final tie

Botic Van de Zandschulp, Davis Cup 2022 Botic Van de Zandschulp, Davis Cup 2022 – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Botic Van de Zandschulp has got the Netherlands off to the perfect start in their Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Italy, beating Matteo Arnaldi (6) 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7) in Malaga.

Boasting the likes of Jannik Sinner, Lorenzo Musetti and Lorenzo Sonego in their Davis Cup contingent, Italy headed into the tie as strong favourites against the Dutch.

However, despite being ranked nearly ten places below his young opponent at No 51 in the world, Van de Zandschulp showed that experience is just as important as ranking when in comes to competing in the feverish cauldron that is Davis Cup tennis.

Both players performed well, spurred on by strong vocal support from both countries’ sections of a boisterous crowd in what was another pleasantly surprising audience turnout in Spain.

Arnaldi struck first, taking the opening set on a tight tiebreak. But Van de Zandschulp hit back, taking the only break of the second set to move the match level at one set all.

The decider was another tight affair, the Dutchman breaking in the third game before Arnaldi broke back in the sixth. A third-set tiebreak was required to settle the match and it was Van de Zandschulp’s composure in the most pressurised of moments that proved key, as he narrowly won the breaker 9-7 to earn a memorable Davis Cup victory.

Sinner will take on Tallon Griekspoor in the tie’s crucial second match. The Italian played in the biggest final of his life just four days ago in Turin, an emotionally draining experience which saw him fail to give his home crowd the outcome they had desperately wanted.

Now, the world No 4 is back under pressure for his country, with Italy’s hopes of remaining in the 2023 Davis Cup Finals all resting on Sinner’s ability to beat Griekspoor and therefore send the tie into a deciding doubles match.

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