>>>ANSA/ Tennis:Italy eye Federer's Switzerland after ousting GB
Fognini beats Murray as Azzurri prevail in Davis Cup quarters07 April, 18:33
(ANSA) - Rome, April 7 - Italy are eyeing the tasty prospect of taking on Roger Federer's Switzerland in the Davis Cup semi-finals in September after an outstanding display by Fabio Fognini against Andy Murray helped the Azzurri beat Great Britain 3-2 over the weekend in Naples.
"Fognini! Italy Makes History", screamed the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport over a piece saying "fantastic Fabio beats Murray to push the Azzurri into the semi-finals" for the first time in 16 years.
"Italian tennis has found the champion it has been waiting for for many years," La Gazzetta said.
It said the win over reigning Wimbledon champ Murray, "who is no. 8 in the world but really one of the the Fab Four (with Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer), "was a "masterpiece...the best match ever played by our leading man. "It's only a question of time before (Fognini) gets into the top 10 in the world," said Italy's biggest-selling newspaper.
Like other papers, La Gazzetta noted that world no. 13 Fognini had been cheered on from the stands by "his special friend (and perhaps more than that) Flavia Pennetta, currently the leading light in Italian women's tennis, as he saved a match point to notch up a thrilling and memorable win against and out-of-sorts Murray".
La Gazzetta added that "the red-hot support of 5,000 crazy Neapolitans gave the Scot the coup de grace".
But Fognini and his "able assistant, world number 34 Andreas Seppi, who beat British No.2 and world No. 161 James Ward," will have to "up their games considerably if they are to compete with Federer and his equally threatening compatriot Stanislaus Wawrinka," it said.
The 17-time grand-slam title winner Federer, whom many consider the greatest player ever, is currently ranked fourth in the world, while Wawrinka is No.3, having won his first slam title, the Australian Open, in January. Italy have met Switzerland twice since Federer began a 10-year domination of the tennis world on the cusp of the 2000s: they lost on both occasions, 3-2 at Neuchatel (Federerer's debut in the competition) in 1999, and 3-2 in Genoa in 2009.
According to 1976 Davis Cup hero Adriano Panatta, interviewed by Italian TV on Monday, "it was high time for Italian men's tennis to get its game together...but in September it'll be Federer facing them, and that's a completely different question". The head of Italian sport, Olympic Committee chief Giovanni Malagò, said: "Yesterday a very beautiful thing happened.
"Good luck lads, it's not going to be a walk in the park against Switzerland in September".
Men's tennis in Italy has been in the doldrums for the past decade or more while the women's game has been grabbing ever more of the limelight with four Fed Cup titles in eight years, spearheaded by the likes of Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.