MORIOKA: Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini defeated Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama in Saturday's doubles as Italy took a 2-1 lead over Japan in the first round of the Davis Cup.
After splitting Friday's opening singles, Italy gained the advantage after a 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 7-5 doubles victory.
The winning country advances to the quarterfinals while the loser will have to win a playoff to remain in next year's World Group.
Japan must now win both Sunday's reverse singles to advance and end a three-year drought that includes losses to Canada, Britain and France.
Italy is bidding to reach the quarterfinals for the fifth time in six years.