Italy, Canada advance to Davis Cup semifinals

Malaga, Spain, Nov 24 (EFE).- Italy and Canada have advanced to the semifinals of the Davis Cup with 2-1 victories over the United States and Germany, respectively.

A day after Australia and Croatia booked their spots in the final four with a pair of singles victories apiece against the Netherlands and Spain, respectively, both ties on Thursday came down to decisive doubles matches at the Jose Maria Martin Carpena Sports Palace in the southern Spanish city of Malaga.

Veterans Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli were the heroes for the Italian squad as they dismissed the American duo of Jack Sock, a three-time men’s doubles Grand Slam champion, and Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4.

The ninth game of the first set proved to be a crucial turning point, as the Americans fended off one break point with a brilliant half-volley by Sock but were eventually unable to hold serve.

Serving at 5-4 in the ensuing game, the Italians wrapped up the opener when a Sock backhand drifted wide of the sideline.

The key blow in the second set came in the seventh game, with the Italians putting themselves within two games of the semifinal at 4-3 when the 37-year-old Bolelli hit an inside-out backhand return for a clean winner on break point.

Three games later, the 35-year-old Fognini wrapped up the victory for the veteran duo when he painted the line with a slice serve up the middle.

“I am really happy, I am here with my ‘brother’ and we played really well,” Fognini said afterward.

Earlier, 45th-ranked Lorenzo Sonego pulled off a mild upset when he downed 19th-ranked American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

Sonego finished off the opening set in 38 minutes when he finally forced an error after Tiafoe had scrambled all over court to keep the point alive.

In the second set, the Italian went from defense to offense in the point of the match to force a tiebreaker and then clinched victory when an outstanding down-the-line backhand forced a Tiafoe error.

The ninth-ranked Fritz, however, equalized for the US in the second singles match with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 victory over 23rd-ranked Lorenzo Musetti after saving two set points in a hard-fought first set.

In the Canada-Germany tie, 152nd-ranked German Jan-Lennard Struff played at a much higher level than his ranking indicates in edging 18th-ranked Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2).

Struff broke serve early in the third set when Shapovalov let a mishit crosscourt forehand passing shot sail by and the ball snuck just inside the sideline.

But Shapovalov rallied with the German serving at 5-3, breaking serve in a 16-point game and then forcing a tiebreaker with a love service hold.

Not much went right for the Canadian, however, in that decider, which ended when Shapovalov missed a forehand near the bottom of the net.

Despite that setback, Canada were still in good hands with the sixth-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime, who put on a display of power serving and baseline prowess to down 65th-ranked Oscar Otte 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime started separating himself from Otte in the tiebreaker, which he wrapped up with an ace in the ad court.

He then secured the first service break of the match with a forehand winner that gave him a 4-3 lead in the second set.

Three games later, the Canadian clinched victory when Otte netted a backhand to knot the tie at 1-1.

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