Italy beat the United States in a decisive doubles match Thursday in Malaga, Spain, to advance to the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time in eight years.
Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini defeated Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4 6-4 to secure a 2-1 victory for Italy after the teams split the singles matches.
Bolelli and Fognini broke once in each set to set up Saturday’s semi-final against the winner between Germany and Canada.
Earlier, Lorenzo Sonego used his big serve to defeat Francis Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6(7) and give the Italian team a 1-0 lead. Taylor Fritz raised the American bar after defeating Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (8), 6-3.
The United States has a record 32 Davis Cup titles, but the most recent came in 2007 under the previous best-of-five match format played in the host countries rather than the revamped event where the bottom eight teams congregate in one location for a week. Tennis. The American team, led by Captain Mardy Fish, came to Spain with high hopes that it could break that dry spell.
“I’ve wanted to win this thing for a very long time as a player and as a captain,” Fish said. “It’s not going to happen this year and it stinks. We’ll go home without the trophy, which is impressive.”
Italy, who won their only Davis Cup title in 1976, were left without their best players, with Yannick Sener sporting an injured toe and Matteo Berrettini recovering from a foot problem.
Sonego, ranked No. 45, scored 17 aces and did not concede a serve to Tiafoe. Sonego sealed the win when Tiafoe hit a forehand after a long run to end the second-set tiebreak.
No. 19 Tiafoe, a US Open semifinalist in September, won their only previous meeting at the Paris Masters just over three weeks earlier.
This time, Sonego took the lead, Tiafoe said.
“Two weeks ago I was playing very aggressively, running him and hitting harder. Tiafoe said.
Sonego saved two set points while leading at 6-5 in the second set to force a tiebreaker. He said he relied on the boisterous Italian fans who turned out to support him in Spain, which is home to more than 250,000 Italians.
“I’m really proud of my team and with this great crowd, it feels like we’re in Italy. They have been supporting us from the start,” said Italy captain Filippo Volandri.
Fritz fired 12 aces and caught one break to beat 23rd seed Musetti for the second time after losing at Wimbledon in June.
And on Wednesday, the Croatian national team, led by Marin Cilic, advanced to the other semi-final after defeating Spain, which was missed by Rafael Nadal and first seed Carlos Alcaraz.
Croatia will face Australia, who beat the Netherlands, on Tuesday.
Australian PGA: Adam Scott hit a 5-under 66 after 6am BST to go away with one stroke after the first round in Brisbane, Australia.
Three more Australians shot 65s in afternoon sets – Min-woo Lee, Jason Scrivener and John Lleras – to share a first-round lead.
Brad Kennedy, Anthony Cowell and South Korea’s Jeonjun Wang tied Scott’s No. 66 and tied for fourth.
Scott was playing in the same early morning group as British Open champion Cameron Smith, who is three strokes behind after a 68, and Ryan Fox, close runner-up to Rory McIlroy in the European Tour Order of Merit this season, who had a 72.
European tour: Dan Bradbury equaled the course record with an 8-under 63 despite bogey on his last hole to keep the club’s lead into the first round of the Joburg Open, which was suspended for the night due to thunderstorms.
The Englishman started from the back nine and mixed seven birdies and two eagles with a double bogey in the 15th and his only bogey in the ninth, preventing him from scoring the outright. He was one shot ahead of Germany’s Nick Bashem, while Frenchman Romain Langasque came back for another shot.
“It was too good to be fair, I can’t really complain with 63 can I?” Bradbury said. “It got a little bit of momentum early in the ninth, and then obviously the[first]thunderstorm stopped that.”
Play was interrupted by storms during the afternoon and then halted for the day with about half the field yet to finish the run.
Clement Berardot of France was 6 after only 11 holes, having made four consecutive birdies when play stopped.
The Joburg Open is the first tournament of the European Tour’s 2023 season, with two other events in South Africa in December.
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