Italy has reached the semi-finals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga after a stunning performance by veteran doubles team Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli.
The pair beat Jack Sock and Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to defeat the United States 2-1, and will now face either Canada or Germany in the final four.
Fognini and Bolelli came out to a hero’s welcome from a large, vociferous Italian contingent in the crowd, and they were immediately the sharper pair.
Bolelli was everywhere, pouncing on volleys and hitting some sensational one-handed backhand returns.
The US couldn’t cope; a single break of serve in each set was enough to give Italy the win.
A thrilled Fognini and Bolelli sang songs of celebration with the crowd afterwards, and their mutual affection and admiration was clear.
"I am really happy, I am here with my 'brother' and we played really well,” said Fognini.
Bolelli added: "I am happy for me, for Fabio, for the team. It was really tough, but it is great to be through to the semi-finals.”
Captain Filippo Volandri could not contain his joy.
"I’m really proud of my team, and of this crowd,” he said.
"It’s like we are in Italy! All the players did an unbelievable job. Even Matteo [Berrettini], who couldn’t play because of injury is here, and Jannik [Sinner] supporting from home. I am really lucky to have this team.
“Everyone is ready to do the job whenever I call them, and I’m really proud of all of them. Sonego has had a tough year but I knew he could do unbelievable things in the Davis Cup and he did."
Earlier, the US set up the deciding doubles after Taylor Fritz overcame Lorenzo Musetti in a thrilling contest.
A match full of explosive hitting was decided on just a few points as Italy’s Musetti tried to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Lorenzo Sonego, who beat Frances Tiafoe earlier in the day.
Fritz proved too solid though, withstanding the extravagant game of his opponent and the fervent Italian support.
Italy’s preparations had been hampered by injuries to their top two singles players, Sinner and Berrettini, but in Sonego, they have found a perfect replacement.
Despite his inferior ranking, Sonego took the match to Tiafoe from the start, and eventually squeezed through.
Click here for tickets