NAPLES - Italy’s world number 13 Fabio Fognini stunned a tiring Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to level their Davis Cup quarter-final tie 2-2 with Britain in Naples on Sunday.

It means Britain’s bid to make the semi-finals of the competition’s World Group for the first time in 33 years will hinge on the final singles rubber between Andreas Seppi and James Ward. Fognini said: “Now it’s 2-2, we need one more extra point. I’m really happy for my performance.” It was Murray’s first Davis Cup singles defeat since 2005, but came three days after he suffered a stomach bug and against a player who has won all three of his titles on clay within the last nine months.

Murray said: “He played very well today, that’s for sure. He’s a very good player especially on this surface. “I knew it would be a tough one but unfortunately I wasn’t quite able to play well enough.” He appeared to lack sharpness throughout but said fatigue had not been an issue: “I thought I did okay. I guess the third set was the closest one in terms of scoreline.

“I did okay physically. Not the best, but I’ve definitely been worse in situations like that.”  Murray started in positive fashion, breaking the Italian number one in the first game of the first set. But Fognini, part of the doubles team beaten by Murray and Colin Fleming on Saturday when Britain took a 2-1 lead, responded in positive fashion and had Murray on the ropes throughout most of the encounter on red clay.

The Italian broke back twice in the first set and twice again in the second to heap the pressure on Murray.

 In the second set alone, Murray had 21 unforced errors and only six winners to 11 for his Italian opponent. The Scot was struggling with his serve and with a partisan Neapolitan crowd on his back throughout, never really found his rhythm. Fognini broke Murray once again during a slightly closer third set and as the Scot served to stay in the match in the final game Fognini pounced to earn three match points at 0-40.

Murray saved two, but netted a forehand to hand Fognini his 12th win in 13 Davis Cup clay-court rubbers. It left Ward needing to beat Seppi, but due to rain their rubber was postponed in the first set while the Italian led 5-4. Victory for Ward would send Britain into their first World Group semi-finals in 33 years. If Seppi prevails, Italy will reach the last four for the first time since 1998 when they went on to finish runners-up to Sweden.