Italy, Canada make Davis Cup semi-finals

Lleyton Hewitt's Australian team will face a showdown with either Italy or star-studded Canada if they make it to their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

While the Australians were practising for Friday's semi-final against Croatia at the Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena, the Italians were earning a surprise 2-1 win over the US to remain on course for their first triumph in the competition for 46 years.

Then the Canadians rallied with lead-off singles man Denis Shapovalov making up for his early defeat by playing some inspirational stuff in a late-night deciding doubles to oust Germany 2-1 in the last quarter-final.

The Australians, who first have their work cut out to subdue Croatia - perhaps the strongest team left in the competition featuring Marin Cilic, Borna Coric and doubles stars Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic - now know life will not get any easier should they make the final.

A potential showdown against Italy, who are without their two best players, looks more inviting than an outing against Canada's dynamic duo of Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, who fell at the final hurdle three years ago.

The Italians were without Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, but still found an able deputy in Lorenzo Sonego, the world No.45, who opened up with a shock 6-3 7-6 (9-7) win over 19th-ranked Frances Tiafoe.

Though Taylor Fritz hauled the 32-time champions back into the tie, beating young Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (10-8) 6-3, it was the veteran pairing of 37-year-old Simone Bolelli and 35-year-old Fabio Fognini who stepped up immaculately in the doubles decider.

They outplayed Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4 6-4 to ensure the Italians reached the last-four for the first time since 2014.

The Canadians' in-form totem Auger-Aliassime, the top-ranked player in Malaga this week at No.6, helped fashion their rescue act after Shapovalov had surprisingly lost a thriller to Jan-Lennard Struff.

Struff, who has dropped to 152 in the rankings but has never lost his big-serving danger, finally repelled the Canadian's resistance after Shapovalov had saved two match points, prevailing 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-2).

But Auger-Aliassime defeated Oscar Otte 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 to give Shapovalov a quick chance of redemption, which he took alongside Vasek Pospisil.

The pair fought back from a set down to defeat the previously unbeaten Cup pairing of Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz 2-6 6-3 6-3, with Shapovalov knifing the final winning backhand with the clock having just struck midnight.