ATP Cup: No Rafael Nadal, no joy for Spain, as Italy reaches final

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ATP Cup: No Rafael Nadal, no joy for Spain, as Italy reaches final

Italy joined Russian in the ATP Cup final following two singles wins over the last year's finalists Spain. Rafael Nadal couldn't help his team due to minor back issues, and unlike against Australia and Greece, Spain needed their top-ranked player against Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini.

In the first match, Fognini defeated Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, which came as a surprise following Fognini's performance in the first encounter against Dennis Novak, when he barely won a couple of games. Fabio played well in this one, hitting 34 winners and 48 unforced errors and controlling the rallies' pace.

Both players grabbed five breaks, and the Italian delivered his in the crucial moments to put his country ahead. From 2-0 down, Fabio rattled off six straight games in the opening set and brought it home when Pablo sprayed a forehand error in the eighth game.

Things looked better for the Spaniard in set number two, as he found the range on the return to earn three straight breaks and grab the set 6-1. Starting all over, Fognini secured two breaks in the decider to open a 4-1 gap, with three match points up for grabs on the return at 5-3.

Carreno Busta saved those with service winners to prolong the action before Fognini held at 15 with a beautiful volley winner at the net in game ten to push Italy in front.

Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini sent Italy into the ATP Cup final.

In the second match, Matteo Berrettini ousted Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 25 minutes to secure Italy's final berth.

Matteo blasted 13 aces and dropped ten points in 11 service games, offering no break chances to his rival and challenging him to produce similar numbers if he wanted to stay in touch. The Italian had 30 winners and 20 unforced errors, overpowering the rival and keeping Italy on the title course.

Serving well right from the start, Matteo secured a break in the fourth game when Roberto sprayed a forehand error and secured the opener with a service winner at 5-3 in under 30 minutes. Bautista Agut stayed in touch in the second set's opening ten games, wasted a game point in that 11th game and suffered a break when Berrettini landed a forehand down the line winner.

Serving for the victory, Matteo fired four winners at 6-5 to seal the deal in style and set Sunday's clash against Russia.