(Reuters) - Australia's Davis Cup players have vowed to return to Malaga and claim the title next year after losing a second successive final in the international men's team tournament on Sunday.
The Australians had the misfortune to come up against a red-hot Jannik Sinner on Sunday and it was his 6-3 6-0 singles victory over Alex De Minaur that secured a first title for Italy in 47 years and rendered the doubles rubber superfluous.
De Minaur also featured in last year's loss to Canada in the final at the same arena and the world number 12 took solace from how well Australia had performed since the finals format was changed to the best of three rubbers.
"There hasn't been another nation that's gone back-to-back in the last two years, so we are showing a pretty good effort collectively," he told reporters.
"We are very, very close and it stinks like hell but, like I said last year in this same position, we'll be back. We'll get this. I mean, we've got a very, very strong future ahead of us."
Australia won the last of their 28 titles in 2003 and have reached the last two finals without the talents of Nick Kyrgios, who is currently sidelined by injury and last played Davis Cup in 2019.
Captain Lleyton Hewitt has forged a strong team bond between the likes of De Minaur, world number 40 Alexei Popyrin and the 55th ranked Jordan Thompson as well as the doubles pairing of Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell.
A crestfallen De Minaur conceded he had been outclassed by world number four Sinner in the second singles match after Popyrin had been beaten by Matteo Arnaldi in the opener.
"Jannik is riding this amazing wave of confidence ... it's seriously impressive the level he's showing," he added.
"I will find ways to get better, to be able to hurt these types of players. Today I just didn't have enough.
"I'm disappointed I wasn't able to give the boys a chance to play the doubles, that's probably the biggest disappointment."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)