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Italy take doubles to edge USA in Davis Cup quarter-final

By AFP

PARIS: Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli cruised to victory in the deciding doubles as Italy beat the United States 2-1 their Davis Cup quarter-final in Malaga on Thursday.

“I am really happy, I am here with my ‘brother’. We played really well,” said Fognini, after the pair beat Jack Sock and Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4.

Italy, shorn of their two top players, world number 15 Jannik Sinner and 16th-ranked Matteo Berrettini, eliminated an American team led by ninth-ranked Taylor Fritz and Francis Tiafoe, who is in the top 20.

Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 45th, opened the tie by coming from a set down to beat Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

Fritz levelled when he survived a tough first set to beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.

That set the stage for the first doubles match of the week. The first two quarter-finals were both settled after the two singles rubbers.

Fognini and Bolelli, the 2015 Australian Open champions, broke in the ninth game of the first set and the seventh game of the second to win.

Italy, the only one of the eight nations in Malaga whose football team is not at the World Cup, were roared on by strong support.

“I’m really proud of my team and of this crowd,” said captain Filippo Volandri.

“It’s like we are in Italy! All the players did an unbelievable job. Even Matteo who couldn’t play because of injury is here and Jannik is supporting from home.”

USA captain Mardy Fish did not enjoy his Thanksgiving.

“No doubt that was a tough day.” he said. “No doubt that they were the better team today.”

“Their doubles, they played phenomenally well. They’re a great team.”

On Saturday, Italy, whose only Davis Cup title came back in 1976, will face 2019 runners-up Canada or three-time winners Germany.

Jan-Lennard Struff, ranked a lowly 152 in the world, gave Germany the lead in their quarter-final with a stunning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over 18th-ranked Denis Shapovalov.

Struff has now defeated the Canadian six times in nine meetings and on Thursday survived an 18-ace barrage from the left-hander.

Later, Felix Auger-Aliassime, the highest-ranked man in Malaga at six in the world, levelled the quarter-final with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 win over Oscar Otte, Germany’s 65th-ranked player.

Auger-Aliassime unleashed 15 aces and 21 winners, converting the only break of the contest in the seventh game of the second set.

The tie will be decided in the doubles when Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz face Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil.

Krawietz and Puetz won the decisive doubles in the qualifying round earlier this year as Germany defeated France, Belgium and Australia.

On Friday, two-time champions Croatia face Australia, who have won the Davis Cup on 28 occasions, in the first semi-final.

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