Murray: Fognini deserved it
Andy Murray admits he was outplayed by Fabio Fognini as Great Britain missed the opportunity to reach the semi-finals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1981.
Britain led 2-1 going into the final day, but with James Ward always likely to find it tough in the final rubber against Andrea Seppi - ranked 126 places above him - hopes were pinned on Murray to clinch victory.
Murray had beaten Seppi in his opening singles on Saturday morning, then teamed up with Colin Fleming to win the doubles later that afternoon. But he was unable to make it a hat-trick of wins on Sunday and went down in straight sets, 6-3 6-3 6-4 to claycourt specialist Fognini in front of a partisan crowd in Naples.
Ward was then unable to pull off a shock against Seppi, losing 6-4 6-3 6-4 and Italy move into the semi-finals where they will face Switzerland.
It ended Murray's run of 19 straight victories in Davis Cup singles - the only other rubber he lost was his debut match.
He admitted: "Fabio played very well today, that's for sure. He's a very good player especially on this surface, so I knew it was going to be a tough one and I wasn't able to play well enough. I did OK physically, not the best, but I've been worse."
He added on the LTA website: "He played some great stuff at important periods in the match and that was the main difference.
"When I had my main opportunities I was a little bit disappointed in myself, and when he had his he was exceptional, so credit to him."
Fognini said: "Today I just played better than Andy and that's tennis. I was annoyed yesterday after the doubles. This was a very important victory - it's certainly my best match in Davis Cup. I just stayed focused on my game and I managed to win."
The Italians were ecstatic as they reached the semi-finals for first time in 16 years.
"A great feat, a great success for all Italian tennis," Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti said. "It was time we got back to the semi-finals. It's credit to everyone, to a team which has a great character. It was a victory of character."