By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday November 24, 2022
Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini clinched a spot in the Davis Cup semis for Italy with a win over Jack Sock and Tommy Paul.
Photo Source: Getty
For the second consecutive year, Italy has notched a victory over the United States at Davis Cup.
Fabio Fognini other Simone Bolelli scored a 6-4 6-4 victory over Jack Sock and Tommy Paul to send the Italians into the final four at Davis Cup – they will face either Italy or Germany next in their first semifinal in Davis Cup since 2014.
Italy improves to 9-4 over the United States. The two teams have met in each of the last three iterations of Davis Cup, renewing a rivalry that lay dormant from 1998 until 2019.
Italy was the underdog heading into the tie, due to the absence of Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, but Lorenzo Sonego was quick off the mark as he set the tone for his team on Thursday in Malaga.
Sonego played brilliantly against Frances Tiafoe, hammering 17 aces and digging himself out of trouble in a tense second set that saw him save a pair of set points as he held Tiafoe at bay in the final set tiebreak.
Sonego’s 6-3, 7-6(7) triumph put Italy up 1-0.
Tiafoe played well, just not good enough to get by Sonego, who was clearly inspired by playing for his country, which had the lion’s share of crowd support in Malaga.
“I felt like a lot of the points he was dictating, he was running me around, he was more the aggressor. He served well. He served really well, I thought,” Tiafoe said. “I just wasn’t as aggressive as I have been. I was a bit more tentative, and he took advantage of that.”
Tiafoe finishes his season at a career-high No.19 in the world, he went 35 and 25 and notched a rousing trip to the semifinals at the US Open.
Sonego has now notched two consecutive Top-20 victories, after dropping 13 straight against the Top-20 from May of 2021 through this summer.
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) November 24, 2022
taylor fritz, the American No.1, brought his side level with a workmanlike victory over Lorenzo Musetti, 7-6(8), 6-3, to set the stage for deciding doubles.
Fritz, who will finish a season in the top-10 at No.9 in the world for the first time, cranked 12 aces and saved all three break points he faced to topple the rising 20-year-old.
“He showed that he’s really in good form,” Musetti said of Fritz. “I mean, he showed even last week. He played really good. What I think even tough for him, especially the first set. At the end I had my chances. I mean, I didn’t take it. But tennis is like this.
“I tried to be brave, to be aggressive on his second serve, and didn’t play. But I was a little bit maybe in a rush, and he deserved the win.”
Eight years in the making 🇮🇹@BolelliSimone/@fabiofogna fire Italy into their first semi-final since 2014 with a 6-4 6-4 master class #DavisCup #byRakuten #final8 | @feathertennis pic.twitter.com/CRfKTMQiZa
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) November 24, 2022
Fognini and Bolelli used their plethora of experience to take down Sock and Paul for the deciding doubles point, as the 2015 Australian Open champions never had their serve broken. They notched a critical break in each set, and after the victory, American Captain Mardy Fish took criticism for not selecting Rajeev Ram to play on the squad.
Ram, fresh off winning the ATP Finals with Joe Salisbury, left a cryptic tweet after the tie was concluded, saying “How’s everybody’s Thanksgiving going?”
How’s everyone’s Thanksgiving going?
— Rajeev Ram (@RajeevRam) November 24, 2022
It is perceived as a jab to the captain for leaving him off the squad.
Fish explained his decision to not select the World No.3 doubles player after the contest.
“We’ve got a lot of great players that play for the US Rajeev is one of them,” he said. “He wasn’t on the team this year, and that’s my choice. This is the team that I put on the court, and so if anyone has an issue with that, that’s on me.
“Rajeev has played. He’s played and he’s played well. He’s played for us a few times with Jack, and this is a team that I was excited to see. Also Jack and Frances are a phenomenal team. They have played and beaten some really good teams in some competitions as well, and so we had a lot of options. This was the team we went with today.
“But if Rajeev was here or not, those guys were going to win today. They played well and they’re too good.”