Defending champions ousted from Davis Cup in pre-quarterfinals
Fabio Fognini twirls his shirt as he celebrates his win over Guido Pella in Buenos Aires on Monday. Pics/AP,PTI
Buenos Aires: Argentina's reign as Davis Cup champions is over after less than three months following a dramatic defeat by Italy in Buenos Aires.
Guido Pella led Fabio Fognini by two sets to love in a deciding rubber held over to Monday 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's Guido Pella is stunned after his defeat to Italy's Fabio Fognini in Buenos Aires in the fifth rubber
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.