Italy handed defending Davis Cup champions Argentina a first-round knockout Monday, moving to the quarter-finals as Fabio Fognini came back from two sets down to defeat Guido Pella. With the two teams tied at 2-2 heading into the decisive fifth match, Fognini, the world number 45, was beaten in the two sets on the clay at Parque Sarmiento in Buenos Aires.
But he fought back to beat the 80th-ranked Pella, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Italy will now face Belgium from April 7-9.
Fognini had some heated exchanges with Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who was in the front row cheering on Pella. But the Italian downplayed the friction after the match.
"Diego is Diego. There was no problem. If he comes to the locker room, I'll give him my jersey," he said.
The match, originally set for Sunday, had been delayed by rain.
Argentina, which had fought back from two matches down to tie the World Group encounter, became the 10th title holder to crash out of the Davis Cup in the first round since 1972.
(With inputs from AFP)