Argentina’s reign as Davis Cup champions is over after less than three months following a dramatic 3-2 defeat by Italy in Buenos Aires yesterday.
Guido Pella led Fabio Fognini by two sets to love in a deciding rubber held over to yesterday because of rain as the hosts looked set to complete a remarkable comeback.
But Fognini had a final twist up his sleeve and rallied for a 2-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory to send Italy through to a quarter-final against Belgium in April.
Argentina, who won their first Davis Cup title in their fifth final against Croatia in November, looked down and out when they trailed 2-0 on Friday.
Leonardo Mayer and Carlos Berlocq then saved a match point in their doubles victory before Berlocq levelled the tie with another five-set win over Paolo Lorenzi.
Ultimately those heroics proved to be in vain, though, and Argentina now face a play-off in September to hold onto their World Group status.
On Sunday night, Britain reached the last eight in bizarre circumstances when Canadian Denis Shapovalov defaulted for inadvertently blasting a ball into the umpire’s face.
Shapovalov, 17, had lost the first two sets against Kyle Edmund in the fifth and deciding rubber when he hammered the ball away in a fit of rage at 2-1 down in the third set.
Although he meant to hit the ball into the stands, it flew straight into the left eye of umpire Arnaud Gabas.
“It was a strange way to finish,” Edmund told the BBC.
“I’ve never been part of something like that.”
“On paper I had an advantage but you don’t play on paper, you play on a hard court. Anything can happen in the Davis Cup so I’m very pleased.”
The ITF yesterday said that the teenager had been fined a total of $7,000 for the incident – $2,000 for being defaulted and $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
He escaped the maximum penalty of $12,000 because his action had not been intentional.
The win capped a fine comeback for Britain, who had come into the day leading 2-1 before Pospisil levelled the world group first round tie with a 7-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 win over Dan Evans.
Belgium vs Italy; Australia vs USA; France vs Britain; Serbia vs Spain.
Ties to be played on April 7-9.
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