Tennis-Italy stun United States to reach Davis Cup semi-finals

Tennis - Copa Davis - Quarter Finals - Italy v United States - Palacio de los Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena, Malaga, Spain - November 24, 2022 Italy's Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini shakes hands with Tommy Paul and Jack Sock of the U.S. after winning their doubles match in the quarter final REUTERS/Jon Nazca

(Reuters) - Italy remained on course for a first Davis Cup crown since 1976 with a stunning 2-1 win over record winners United States as the doubles pair of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini beat Jack Sock and Tommy Paul in a thrilling decider in Malaga on Thursday.

Taking to the court after American Taylor Fritz levelled the tie at 1-1 after Lorenzo Sonego gave Italy a shock lead, Bolelli and Fognini produced a flawless display in their 6-4 6-4 win to help their nation reach the semis for the first time since 2014.

Earlier, Sonego held his nerve in a tight second set to get past Frances Tiafoe 6-3 7-6(7) and put Italy -- who are without the injured duo of Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner -- ahead.

Sonego drew first blood to go up 4-2 and saved a break point before claiming the opening set. The world number 45, who lost his previous meeting with Tiafoe in Paris this year, saved two set points in the next set to force a tiebreak.

Tiafoe then grabbed the early lead but Sonego hit back and closed out the victory on his third matchpoint to ignite wild celebrations among Italian fans in the stands.

But Italy's joy was shortlived as Fritz dragged the 32-times winners back into the tie, battling from the brink in the first set tiebreak to beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6(8) 6-3 and set up the doubles decider.

Italy now face the winner of Thursday's late tie between Germany and Canada for a place in the final, while Croatia will take on 28-times champions Australia in the other semi-final.

The title clash takes place on Sunday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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