Italy go 2-0 up over Greece in United Cup

Maria Sakkari's early horror show turned into a bona fide thriller, but there'd be no happy ending for Greece who trailed 2-0 after the first night of their United Cup semi-final against Italy.

With a mismatch between world No.803 Stefanos Sakellaridis and Italy's Lorenzo Musetti (No.23) to follow, the Greek team would have been banking on a Sakkari win to keep them well-placed in the contest.

But Martina Trevisan hadn't read that script, edging the visibly frustrated Sakkari 6-3 6-7 (7-5) 7-5 in a three-hour and 15-minute epic.

The world No.6 went in as a warm favourite in Sydney, having not dropped a set during her three singles wins to start the competition.

Trevisan, the world No.27, had been patchy at best with only one, three-set win.

But form went out the window, often along with Sakkari's groundstrokes.

Trevisan broke Sakkari in her opening service game and ultimately established a 4-2 lead.

Some 22 unforced errors flowed from Sakkari's racquet in the first set, including a diabolical ninth game where she netted a backhand, struck a ball long, double-faulted and missed a regulation volley to enable her opponent to draw first blood.

The rot continued in the second as Trevisan took a 2-0 lead before the two-time grand slam semi-finalist suddenly started to get her game together.

Sakkari broke back and pushed ahead with another in the seventh game, ultimately serving for the set at 5-4.

But Trevisan flipped the script again, snatching the break back to level the contest.

The key moment in the tiebreak came at 4-4, Trevisan dominating the rally only for Sakkari to pull out a superb slapped forehand on defence to win the point.

While she levelled the match, Sakkari struggled to kick on in the third, a net cord giving Trevisan the break for 3-2.

The ever-smiling Italian couldn't hold that one but broke Sakkari in the 11th game before serving out the match.

A routine 6-1 6-1 win followed for Musetti, handing Italy a major advantage heading into day two.

Musetti said he wasn't at his best despite the easy win, saying the tense women's match played its part.

"For me it was very stressful. I was watching her on TV and I warmed up like seven times," he said.

"I was so happy in the end because she fought really well and deserved the win."

Matteo Berrettini can seal a spot in the final for Italy with a first-up win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday.

Italy's Lucia Bronzetti is also favoured to beat Despina Papamichail in the other women's singles before a mixed doubles match is played.