RIMINI, ITALY: Doubles world No. 1's Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani clinched a thrilling tie on home soil by defeating Liezel Huber and Varvara Lepchenko 62 62 much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
The Italians will now play reigning champions Czech Republic at home in April's semifinals in what is sure to be a thrilling tie.
Earlier in the day Varvara Lepchenko stunned Sara Errani 75 62 to give USA a surprise 2-1 lead in the third rubber, before Vinci levelled proceedings at 2-2 with a 62 46 61 triumph over Jamie Hampton.
"Roberta reacted like a great champion," Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti said. "She went out there after all the problems of yesterday, got them out of her head and played two very good matches. That's the mark of a champion.
"They both played a great match and Roberta did a couple of really exceptional shots at the net. I don't really say much to them when they play, they're the best, what can you say? I try not to bother them when they play, they know each other so well. They're the strongest in the world, so I don't have to do anything."
Vinci improved her perfect record in Fed Cup doubles to 18-0 - the best doubles record in Fed Cup history - as Italy clinched a third successive victory over the USA.
"It's maybe the best day of my career," Vinci said. "We really wanted it, we were very tired but today we managed to show a lot of heart, a lot of personality. We are a great team. I had to have various treatments and physiotherapy, massages almost until midnight. Yesterday was a horrible day and I'm glad I managed to come back today.
"I felt a bit of a drop in form in the second set (of the singles) and I did get worried. I was in difficulty but I did well to get out of it. It doesn't matter who wins at the end of the day, what's important is that Italy wins. Sara was very upset, very angry (after her defeat) but losses happen."
It was the USA who surprisingly broke first in the opening set, but the Italian duo reacted in the best way possible, breaking Huber's serve to love as they took the next five games and the set.
Huber and Lepchenko saved two of the Italians' three set points but Vinci closed it out at the net.
The start of the second set was again balanced until Italy broke to take a 3-1 lead, with Vinci again brilliant at the net to stop a stunning shot from Huber and set herself up for a winning smash. The Americans broke straight back, but the Italians' decisive break came immediately after.
Huber and Lepchenko threatened to break again but Vinci rescued two break points as she managed to hold her serve before clinching the match in the next game with a splendid volleyed lob.
"We have had a successful and fun weekend," Huber said. "Of course it's very disappointing today not to win, disappointing to lose again to them, that's what hurts the most. But I think each one of us thinks that this is the best weekend of the year and next time we'll be more experience.
"They (Vinci and Errani) are the weapon. They're like sisters and best friends, they can read each other's body language. That's why they're No. 1 and think they'll be that for many years to come. They both have different styles and they stick to that. I really enjoy watching them play, but not against me!"
It capped a fine day for the Italian No. 2, who survived a scare to beat Hampton earlier.
Vinci seemed in complete control as she stormed into a 5-1 lead in the opening set before a double fault and two unforced errors gifted Hampton her first break.
Vinci broke back to secure the set but a surprise collapse allowed Hampton to take 14 straight points on her way to taking the second set. The home crowd feared the unthinkable might happen, but Vinci was almost perfect in the final set to race into a 5-0 lead.Hampton then held her service game, before Vinci closed out the final game to 15 to level the tie.
"I'm really proud of the team, they played their hearts out every single match," USA captain Mary Joe Fernandez said. "We knew it was going to be an uphill battle. Varvara played some of her best tennis, she wasn't feeling 100 percent today and you would never have known it. Jamie played better than yesterday and had a bit of bad luck in the third. We gave it our best in doubles and that's all you can ask for. It was closer than the score suggests.
“It was an important third set that Jamie lost, we could have capitalised there but we didn't. But this is the closest we've come against the Italian team, and we were playing away. I'm really proud of everyone, how they handled the atmosphere...there were a lot of new experiences and overall I think it's a positive experience.”
Earlier an error-strewn performance from Errani and an almost perfect display from Lepchenko had given the USA a surprise lead in the tie.
Errani started sluggishly and Lepchenko broke for a 2-0 lead. The World No. 7 immediately broke back and held to level the set, but there was another rapid exchange of breaks as
Errani fought back from 4-2 down to take a 5-4 lead and serve for the set.
However, Errani continued to make mistakes and Lepchenko broke again when the Italian No. 1 hit a backhand into the net.
Lepchenko took the next two games as well, to win the set on the second of her three break points, when Errani again hit into the net.
There was more of the same in the second set and Lepchenko stormed into a 4-1 lead. The American had been pinned back by Vinci yesterday from 5-1 to 5-5 and there was a feeling that could happen again when Errani saved a break point, held and then racked up another two break points.
However, it was to prove a false hope for the Italian fans as Lepchenko held her serve before breaking Errani for the sixth time when the Italian sent a backhand into the net.
To view match statistics click here: Live scores
Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (USA) - 10/02/2013
Sara Errani and Roberto Vinci (ITA) - 10/02/2013
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) - 10/02/2013