NAPLES, ITALY: When backed into a corner, Chile did what they needed to do. The South Americans managed to survive another day in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie against Italy by winning the third rubber of the series to bring the overall score to 2-1.
Italy had already won the first two singles rubbers of the tie, making it essential that Chile pull through in the doubles to keep their hopes alive. The winner of the tie will now be decided in the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday.
Italy are fighting to remain among the 16 nations that will compete for the 2013 Davis Cup title in the elite World Group. If the Italians fall to Chile, the South Americans will join the World Group next year, while the Italians will drop to Europe/Africa Zone Group I.
The result of the doubles match was an upset victory for Chile. Paul Capdeville and Jorge Aguilar, ranked No. 238 and No. 218 respectively in doubles, were going up against No. 26 Daniele Bracciali and No. 97 Andreas Seppi.
“For sure, we didn’t play one of our best matches,” Seppi said. “But we have to I think give some credit to the Chilean guys. They played a very solid doubles. And we had too much up and down during the match, and I think that was the key.”
Seppi, who is ranked No. 28 in singles, won the opening rubber on Friday to give Italy their first point of the tie. Earlier Saturday, Capdeville had just lost a five-set singles rubber to Fabio Fognini, putting the Italians up 2-0.
The road to Italy’s second win was not easy. On Friday, the singles rubber between No. 54 Fognini and No. 161 Capdeville was suspended in the fifth and final set after 3 hours 36 minutes, when it became too dark to play further. Each player had claimed two sets, and were locked at 1-1 in the fifth when play was suspended. Capdeville had been on the attack throughout the day, winning the first set and then forcing the third to a tiebreak that he won 8-6.
An evening of rest seemed to benefit both players, but particularly Fognini, who only allowed Capdeville to score one more game on Saturday before taking the fifth set 62 after 31 minutes of play.
At the end of the rubber, Fognini took off his shirt and handed it to one of the spectators.
Fognini said that the length of Friday’s rubber, combined with interruptions due to rain and darkness, made it long and arduous.
“Finally, I won — that’s important," Fognini said. “Today, it was another match, I think.”
But in the doubles, Chile prevailed 64 46 64 62 in a rubber lasting 2 hours 52 minutes, ending the Italians’ hopes of sealing an overall win without having to compete a third day.
Chilean team captain Belus Prajoux said he’s happy his team came through in the doubles, but that he had been hopeful that Capdeville would also prevail in the second singles rubber.
“We thought we had a good chance this morning with Capdeville against Fognini, based on the match yesterday, because it was a very tight match,” Prajoux said.
Capdeville said that his focus after losing to Fognini was winning the doubles, and he succeeded. Coming off of the win, he said he is ready to face Seppi on Sunday in the opening singles rubber of the day.
“I feel strong because I play for my country,” Capdeville said. “I am tired, but it’s OK. I know I play many, many hours, but tomorrow is the last day. And I hope to win.”
Both Seppi and Capdeville have played two rubbers so far, more than any other players from the two teams. Seppi has the chance to win the tie for Italy if he defeats Capdeville in Sunday’s fourth rubber.
Seppi also said he didn't think tiredness would be an issue on Sunday for him. Neither did Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti, who speculated that Capdeville would instead be the one to struggle Sunday after having played two straight days.
“I don’t think Seppi is tired for tomorrow, because he just played four sets in doubles,” Barazzutti said. “I think Capdeville must be much [more] tired than Seppi.”
If Seppi loses, the tie will be decided in the fifth rubber, in which No. 54 Fognini is scheduled to play Hormazabal.
After Hormazabal's loss to Seppi on Friday, he didn’t want to speculate how he might fare in Sunday’s reverse singles rubber against Fognini.
“They are different players,” Hormazabal said on Friday. “With Fognini, I know how he plays — he also plays well. It is a very difficult match Sunday also.”
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Fabio Fognini (ITA) - 15/09/12
Paul Capdeville (CHI) - 15/09/12