Davis Cup: Behind Closed Doors, Italy Gets Job Done

Italy qualifies for the Davis Cup Finals (photo: Davis Cup)

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Italy went with experience over youth during its Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifiers doubles rubber against South Korea behind closed doors at Circolo Tennis Cagliari on Saturday. Leading 2-0 after the first day, the Italians knew that with a victory in the doubles rubber, they would clinch their tie and advance to November’s Davis Cup Finals in Madrid.

Instead of giving Lorenzo Sonego and Stefanos Travaglia their Davis Cup debut in what was considered a pressure-free atmosphere – playing without any spectators in accordance with measures set forth by the Italian government due to the ongoing coronavirus concerns – Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti, instead, anointed Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli to play the pivotal doubles rubber. They won 6-3, 6-1 over Ji Sung Naim and Min-Kyu Song to clinch the tie for the Italians. A dead singles rubber was won by Travaglia for the final 4-0 outcome.

Fognini was asked it was like to play in front of no fans in Cagliari. “The atmosphere was unique, but the first goal was to qualify for Madrid,” he said, quoted by DavisCup.com. “Now, we are there. When you play for your float, when you play for your country, it’s always a different feeling. But the first goal is done.”

Barazzutti said Italy played with respect for its opponent, which is why he opted to go with his more experienced doubles pair. “Matches are always tough in Davis Cup, but we wanted to play focused. We didn’t want to take any risks. 

“We are very happy to qualify. We’ll try to go again, for a second time in Madrid. The prize that I promised – to win for the people who are not here – we caught it. I’m very happy for us, for Italy.”

Around the Davis Cup Qualifiers

• United States 4, Uzbekistan 0 – The United States has won the Davis Cup 32 times in the storied history of the competition. However, the Americans have been shut out since 2007. As the U.S. entered the second day of its tie against Uzbekistan in Honolulu, Hawaii, it needed to capture just one of the final three rubbers to win the tie and punch their ticket for Madrid – and Team USA got it on its first try.

With a 2-0 lead, the Americans looked to future Hall of Famers Bob and Mike Bryan, who were playing their last Davis Cup match for Team USA in their storied career. The twin brothers, who played on the 2007 U.S. team that lifted the Davis Cup trophy, triumphed over Denis Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev, 6-3, 6-4, in 67 minutes. With their victory, it booked the American’s trip back to the Davis Cup Finals.

The Bryans are the United States’ winningest Davis Cup doubles team with a 25-5 lifetime record, and in their final appearance on a Davis Cup stage before they retire later this year, they played loose and relaxed – seemed to have a lot of fun – and they won most of the important points. Together, they hit 30 winners and broke their opponents three times. And, by the end of the match, they treated everyone to one of their