Tennis: Comebacks from Switzerland, Italy and France put them in Davis Cup s-finals

PARIS (AFP) - Switzerland, Italy and France all staged thrilling comebacks on Sunday to reach the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Roger Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam title winner, and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka won their reverse singles as Switzerland beat Kazakhstan 3-2 in Geneva. For their first semi-final tie since 2003, they will face Italy, who defeated Britain 3-2 in Naples.

France came back from 0-2 down to see off underdogs Germany 3-2, and will face two-time defending champions Czech Republic, who crushed Japan 5-0.

World No. 4 Federer, who had never played a decisive Davis Cup rubber, cruised past world No. 64 Andrey Golubev 7-6 (7-0), 6-2, 6-3 for the winning point. Earlier, world No. 3 Wawrinka beat Mikhail Kukushkin, the world No. 56, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to bring Switzerland level.

It was a much-needed win for Wawrinka who had lost his singles opener to Golubev on Friday and then teamed with Federer in a losing doubles tie on Saturday.

"I have had two very, very difficult days," admitted Wawrinka. "I take responsibility for our defeat in the doubles, I didn't do what was necessary."

Federer played in the Swiss team which lost to Australia in the 2003 semi-finals, surrendering a two-sets to love lead against Lleyton Hewitt.

"It was one of my biggest defeats. But I learned a lot and if I have had the career I've had since that time, it was due to matches like that," he said

Italy foiled Britain's dream of a first semi-final appearance in 33 years with a battling 3-2 quarter-final win on the Naples clay.

The British were in control, leading 2-1 going into Sunday's closing two reverse singles. But world No. 13 Fabio Fognini stunned Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 with Andreas Seppi securing the decisive point with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over James Ward.

The Italians, who last appeared in the semi-finals in 1998, will now travel to Switzerland in the Sept 12-14 showdown.

France came back from 0-2 down in the Davis Cup for the fourth time by seeing off a German team lacking their top six players.

Gael Monfils secured the decisive fifth point with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 win over Peter Gojowczyk, after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had earlier levelled the tie at 2-2 beating Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

"It's incredible," said Monfils. "This is the first time this has happened for me. I was stressed all day but now I am super happy."