SANTIAGO, CHILE: Italy's 11-year wait for World Group status is over. Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini sent their nation into the elite group of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for 2012 after winning the doubles rubber 64 64 64 over Jorge Aguilar and Nicolas Massu.
Their unassailable 3-0 win over Chile comes after a devastating opening day for the hosts, when Fernando Gonzalez had to retire with a painful left leg injury, and Potito Starace defeated Paul Capdeville in four sets in the first match.
Fresh from a title win at Umag and a semifinal run at the US Open, Bolelli and Fognini came into the doubles rubber in great form and with high confidence. It leaves Aguilar and Massu yet to win a doubles rubber together.
Italians too strong for Chilean pair
The Chilean team appeared clearly as the underdogs of the tie, choosing to keep Aguilar and Massu, while Italy preferred to switch to the successful Bolelli-Fognini pair instead of the original Bolelli-Bracciali couple.
And although the home team adopted the typical Chilean doubles style, with both players on the baseline, the Italian pair broke in the seventh game – something that happened in the three matches played already in this tie.
The second set followed the same path, this time with two breaks for the Italians and none for the Chileans. A mountain to climb, and it looked like there was no place to begin.
Italy broke again at the beginning of the third set, but Chile made the crowd roar when they broke to level at 3-3. However, this was just a flicker of hope, as Italy broke back immediately and kept the save to make it 5-3. The Chileans fought bravely but in the end just delayed the inevitable superiority of the Italian team.
After the match, Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti was in a jubilant mood with his team returning to the top tier of Davis Cup after 11 years and four failed attempts in World Group play-off ties.
“It is very nice, especially for me” said Barazzutti, remembering he had won the Davis Cup as a player in the same venue in 1976, and had been captain of the team in their four missed attempts to make it back into the World Group.
Fognini was clear on what had happened. “We know that Fernando Gonzalez’s injury was a big impact in this series, and we expected more difficulties, but we are very happy to have won to the Serie A of tennis.”
The Chileans were upset, and not only for losing. “This is a sport of men” were the harsh words of Nicolas Massu, “and men do not cry when they lose. They were better than us in the court and that’s it.”
Massu had also strong feelings about the injury of his teammate. “It is hard to see a grown up man, who I know since I was a kid, to cry because of the pain and deception. We may have a long career, but we are not done for and we will continue playing Davis Cup until we decide it’s over.”
The tie will continue this Sunday with the dead singles rubbers.
- Follow this tie: Live Scores
Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 17/09/2011
Captain Hans Gildemeister (CHI) - 17/09/2011