Reaction as Jannik Sinner meets with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

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The vast size difference was evident as Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner met with the Prime Minister of Italy.

Giorgia Meloni watched a replay of Sinner’s incredible comeback win over Daniil Medvedev, posed for photos and together they lofted the trophy up high as she welcomed the star back to his home country.

“I want to show you something,” the Italian PM said as she turned on a TV to show Sinner winning match point at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

The duo then embraced, with the 1.88m star bending down to hug the 1.52m politician.

Meloni posted a clip of them together, writing on X: “The Italy we like — capable of believing in itself and reacting to difficult challenges. And to win.

“Thank you for the example you set, Jannik, to sports lovers, to our young people and to all of Italy.”

The tennis star, however, is copping some heat over his decision to meet with Meloni, who is known as a right-wing populist.

The first woman to be elected prime minister in Italy, Meloni leads the national-conservative party Brothers of Italy.

She’s been described by critics as neo-fascist, especially after making positive statements about Benito Mussolini, an ally of Hitler who was summarily executed in murky circumstances late in World War II.

As often happens when politics mixes with sport, it didn’t take long for the knives to come out.

Some were particularly critical of Sinner for hugging the politician.

“I understand, as a prominent athlete, meeting with your prime minister who just so happens to be a fascist but I do not really understand giving them a hug, quite frankly,” one person commented on X in respect of the meeting.

Another wrote: “Many sports athletes in my country refused to meet with Trump when that human stain was in the White House. But Jannik Sinner not only met with but gave a long hug to a Fascist. Shame on him.”

Meloni has previously distanced herself from fascism.

“I have never felt sympathy or closeness toward anti-democratic regimes. For no regime, including fascism,” she said during her opening address to parliament in 2022.

She also said her political party “unambiguously condemns Nazism and communism” and “fiercely opposes any anti-democratic drift”.

Pearl-clutching left-wing opponents may have overblown the spectre of Meloni, with a long-read by the Economist recently noting that social policy in Italy had remained mostly unaltered since her election.

There are clearly plenty of eyes on Sinner, with an image of him lugging the Australian Open trophy through an airport going viral.