Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini kept alive Italy’s hopes of a first Davis Cup title since 1976 on Thursday in Malaga, where the doubles duo edged Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4 to clinch a hard-fought quarter-final win against the USA.

Bolleli and Fognini, who have lifted five tour-level titles together, including two this season, clinched the only break of serve in each set in the decisive doubles match to give Italy a 2-1 victory against the 32-time champions.

“I am really happy, I am here with my ‘brother’ and we played really well,” Fognini told daviscup.com after helping Italy reach the semi-finals of the team event for the first time since 2014.

“I am happy for me, for Fabio, for the team,” added Bolelli. “It was really tough, but it is great to be through to the semi-finals.”

Bolelli and Fognini’s doubles heroics came after the two teams had split an engrossing pair of singles rubbers in Spain. Lorenzo Sonego downed Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6(7) to give Italy the early advantage, while there was also a nerve-wracking tie-break in the second match between Lorenzo Musetti and Taylor Fritz. The American saved two set points in the first set before wrapping a 7-6(8), 6-3 win to level the tie, but Fritz’s win was ultimately in vain as Bolelli and Fognini held firm in the doubles.

Italy’s semi-final opponent on Saturday will be Canada after Felix Auger-Aliassime led his country to a comeback win against Germany in Thursday’s evening quarter-final action.

After Jan-Lennard Struff had edged Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) in the opening singles rubber, Auger-Aliassime’s 7-6(1), 6-4 triumph against Oscar Otte left the tie to be decided by the doubles. Despite Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz racing to the opening set, Vasek Pospisil and Shapovalov found their range on return to break their opponents’ serve three times en route to an impressive 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win to the delight of the vocal Canadian supporters in the crowd.

“Huge credit to Felix, first of all, for bringing the team on the board,” said Shapovalov after he and Pospisil had secured Canada’s second semi-final in four years. “He saved us out there today… It’s always a pleasure to play with Vasek. It’s always awesome to share the court with him and we bring some firepower.”

“We got a bit of momentum and having the crowd support helps us to carry the momentum through to the end,” said Pospisil. “It’s a challenge to be sharp out there, but given the circumstances I thought we played really well.”

What is the format for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals?
The group stage of the 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals took place across four cities — Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia — from 13-18 September. Sixteen nations competed in four round-robin groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group advanced to the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage is taking place in Malaga this week, with the final on Sunday.

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