NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Italy won both singles matches against Britain in straight sets on Sunday to reach the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 16 years.
Fabio Fognini pulled off a surprise 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray to level the best-of-five quarterfinal at 2-2 before Andreas Seppi defeated James Ward 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive match.
"A great feat, a great success for all Italian tennis," Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti said. "It was time we got back to the semifinals. It's credit to everyone, to a team which has a great character. It was a victory of character."
Britain was looking to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1981 but Fognini was in commanding form to end Murray's run of 19 consecutive singles victories in the competition.
Seppi rarely struggled against a player ranked 127 places below him and comfortably served out for the match.
Italy will play Switzerland in September's semifinal.
"Today I just played better than Andy and that's tennis," Fognini said. "I was annoyed yesterday after the doubles. This was a very important victory, it's certainly my best match in Davis Cup. I just stayed focused on my game and I managed to win."
Fognini triumphed in the match between the countries' top players, despite dropping his serve in the first game. The 13th-ranked Fognini managed to save two break points but double-faulted to hand Murray the opening game.
Fognini had the opportunity to break straight back but hit long and then netted on another break point as Murray went on to take a 2-0 lead.
In a typically lively Davis Cup atmosphere, British fans chanted "Fabio, we are in your head," but he was cheered on by the vociferous home support.