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Great Britain stunned as Italy fight back to reach semis

ESPN staff
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Andy Murray could not find a way past an inspired Fabio Fognini © Getty Images
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Great Britain were denied a first Davis Cup semi-final place in 33 years after both Andy Murray and James Ward were defeated to give Italy a 3-2 victory in Naples.

Murray had put Britain on the verge of a semi-final spot following his singles win and doubles victory alongside Colin Fleming on Saturday.

However, needing to beat Fabio Fognini to secure Britain's path into the last four, the British No.1 was defeated for only the second time in Davis Cup singles matches as Fognini kept Italy in the tie with a brilliant 6-3 6-3 6-4 straight-sets win.

Ward faced Andreas Seppi in the fifth and deciding rubber but was comfortably beaten 6-4 6-3 6-4 by the world No.34.

James Ward was well beaten by world No.34 Andreas Seppi © Getty Images
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Murray, who had won 19 of 20 singles matches in the Davis Cup prior to the encounter against Fognini, got Britain off to a great start in the opening set, breaking his opponent in the first game and fending off tremendous pressure from Fognini to move into a 3-1 lead.

The British crowd were full of vociferous support for their man from the stands, but Murray would soon feel the heat of the Italian support in the sixth game as Fognini came storming back at the Scot, recovering the break and levelling at 3-3.

Fognini was spurred on by the home crowd as he secured a second break of serve after Murray double-faulted in the eighth game, before holding serve to wrap up the opening set by winning a fifth game in succession.

Break point opportunities for both players disappeared in the early exchanges of the second set as the first six games were shared.

However, it was Fognini who continued to be aggressive on the Murray serve, and was rewarded for his efforts in the seventh game as Murray's shot drifted wide to fall a break behind. Fognini then capitalised on the advantage to go two sets in front following another double fault from Murray on set point.

After going 5-4 in front, Fognini made his move to earn three match points. Murray saved two of them, but could not save the third as world No.13 Fognini claimed a second career win over Murray.

'Murray must forget fun and friendship'

Leon Smith has not ruled out a future full-time coaching role © Getty Images
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Ward could not produce the same tennis which saw him beat Sam Querrey in Britain's first round win over the United States and produce one of the shocks of the Davis Cup. After surviving three breaks in the opening set, Ward returned after a rain delay but was broken again by Seppi as he surrendered the first set.

The Brit could not respond when Seppi moved 4-2 up in the second and when Ward suffered a double break in the third, the tie was over.

Seppi's win means Italy will play in the last four for the first time since 1998.

Roger Federer won the decisive singles match on Sunday to give Switzerland a 3-2 win over Kazakhstan and a spot in the semi-finals for the first time in 11 years.

Federer cruised to a 7-6 (0) 6-2 6-3 victory over 64th-ranked Andrey Golubev, then ran across the court to embrace team captain Severin Luethi.

"We're very relieved and very happy," said the 32-year-old Federer, who has never won a Davis Cup title. "It was a long weekend with a lot of tennis."

Trailing 2-1 after losing Saturday's doubles, Switzerland had drawn level when Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 6-4. Switzerland will host Italy in the semi-finals on September 12-14.

France fought back from 2-0 down to defeat Germany 3-2 as Gael Monfils beat Peter Gojowczyk in the deciding rubber in Nancy on Sunday.

Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost their opening singles matches before Benneteau and Michael Llodra kept France in it with a doubles victory against Andre Begemann and Tobias Kamke.

However, Tsonga won his reverse singles match in straight sets as he dispatched Kamke 6-3 6-2 6-4 before Monfils sealed the comeback with a 6-1 7-6(0) 6-2 triumph against Gojowczyk.

France will now face Czech Republic in the last four after Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely won their reverse singles to complete a 5-0 sweep of Japan in the other quarter-final.

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