Lorenzo Sonego overcame Denis Shapovalov 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-4 in a marathon encounter to give Italy a 1-0 lead over Canada in their Davis Cup semi-final clash in Malaga, Spain on Saturday, as the 1976 winners took a step closer to a final against Australia.
Sonego made a sluggish start but battled back from an early break deficit after finding his groove on serve again to capture the opening set in the tiebreak when an error-prone Shapovalov sent a forehand long.
World number 45 Sonego, who lost in three sets to Shapovalov when the pair last met at Rome earlier this year, saved five set points to hold for 5-5 and took the second set into a tiebreak, but spurned several opportunities to close out the contest. With the match crossing the three-hour mark, Sonego switched on the after-burners to grab a decisive break in the final game and send the Italian fans in the crowd wild.
Italy, who are without the injured Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini, can reach their first final in the prestigious men’s team competition since 1998 if Lorenzo Musetti gets past Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second singles rubber.
Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini the architects of Italy’s stunning 2-1 quarter-final win over the United States are scheduled to face Vasek Pospisil and Shapovalov should the tie go to a deciding doubles match. On Friday, Australia reached the Davis Cup final for the first time in 19 years after a 2-1 win over Croatia. The final is scheduled to be played on Sunday.