NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Fabio Fognini overcame an injury and tough resistance from James Ward to give Italy a 1-0 lead over Britain on the rain-delayed opening day of their Davis Cup quarterfinal Friday.
Andy Murray's match against Andreas Seppi was then suspended due to poor light with the British No. 1 leading 6-4, 5-5 after just under two hours of play. The match will resume Saturday morning ahead of the doubles.
Fognini was made to struggle against a player ranked 148 places below him before winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in more than three hours to preserve his remarkable Davis Cup record on clay.
The start was delayed by more than two hours because of rain in Naples.
Ward powered into a 3-0 lead as Fognini double-faulted twice in his first service, game but the 13th-ranked Italian fought back by winning four games in succession before taking the opening set.
It looked to be a similar story in the second set as Ward again rushed into a 3-0 lead before allowing Fognini back in. But this time it was the Briton who took four games in a row and leveled the match with a drop shot.
Fognini had been hampered by a left thigh injury in the buildup to the series and also had heavy taping by his ribs. He had to receive medical treatment before the start of the third set.
Fognini broke quickly in the third and maintained the advantage, saving two break points before serving out the set.
Ward then seemed to tire as Fognini comfortably took the fourth and final set, sealing the win with a short volley at the net.
Murray, who is ranked eighth in the world, was made to work against Seppi before breaking in the seventh game and going on to claim the opening set.
Both players struggled with their service game and Murray had to save four set points in an enthralling final game of the day.
The two-time Grand Slam champion is looking for his sixth consecutive win against Seppi as Britain attempts to reach the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 1981.
Italy has not lost at home to Britain since 1926 and will be hoping the vociferous home support can help it reach the final four for the first time in 16 years.