Italy thumps U.S. to reach Fed Cup SFs again

Cleveland, OH ( - Karin Knapp sent Italy into the Fed Cup semifinals for the sixth consecutive year with a straight-set win over American Alison Riske on Sunday.

Knapp earned a 6-3, 7-5 victory in the opening reverse singles match to give the defending Fed Cup champs an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.

Riske was given the nod for the Americans on Sunday in place of Madison Keys, who committed a whopping 47 unforced errors in a 6-2, 6-1 rout at the hands of Camila Giorgi in the second match on Saturday.

Knapp, though, took command early Sunday with a pair of breaks in the first set and was cruising toward an easy win with a 5-2 lead in the second. Riske, though, battled back and tied it at 5-5 with a break of serve.

Undeterred, Knapp broke right back and held in the next game to finish the match in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

The second reverse singles match was not played and the Americans salvaged a point with a 6-2, 6-3 doubles triumph from the team of Lauren Davis and Keys over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Italy has won the Fed Cup title four times in the last eight years, including victories over the United States in the 2009-10 finals. The Italians also beat the Americans in the opening round last year en route to another championship.

The Italians hadn't defeated the Americans in Fed Cup play before their recent dominance, losing each of the first nine matchups.

Next up for Italy will be an April semifinal against either Spain or the Czech Republic. That tie has been plagued by rain all weekend and is set to conclude on Monday.