Tennis expert Sean Calvert liked Italy's Davis Cup chances pre-tournament and he's sticking with Corrado Barazzutti's men in the quarter finals against Great Britain this weekend...
"With or without Fognini at his peak Italy should win this, with Murray needing to deliver all three points himself for GB to make the semi finals and that seems unlikely on clay in his physical condition."
The Davis Cup is the focal point of interest in men's tennis this week, with the quarter final ties in the World Group in play this weekend.
And for the first time since 1986 Great Britain are contesting a last eight clash in this competition when they take on Italy on clay at the Tennis Club Napoli in Naples.
The last time that GB made this stage they were thrashed 4-1 by Australia at home on the grass of Wimbledon and the team that day were Jeremy Bates, Andrew Castle, and Colin Dowdeswell.
The British trio didn't win a set until the fifth (dead) rubber, which Bates won by defeating Paul McNamee and they'll be hoping for a lot better when they face the Italians on the red dirt.
I have to say I don't like their chances though and my outright picks Italy look to have far too much strength in depth for GB, assuming that Fabio Fognini is fit to play.
Fogna has been struggling for a while with a left quadricep injury and he probably shouldn't have played in Miami, but doubtless, as it's a mandatory event, he didn't fancy a zero entry on his ranking points so competed anyway.
He actually did rather well until running into Rafa Nadal in the fourth round and much regarding the outcome of this tie will depend on how fit Fognini is.
Fabio pretty much defeated Argentina single-handedly in the previous round, winning both of his singles and the doubles, which allowed the out of form Andreas Seppi to take a back seat.
Seppi may not have that luxury this time around and the man from the German speaking north of the country in South Tyrol will almost certainly have to step up to the plate and get some points on the board for Italy.
The world number 34 has a 15-15 mark in Davis Cup singles rubbers, but he hasn't been in good shape for a while now on the tour, with a 4-11 record in all competition in 2014.
He should still be good enough to expose the likes of James Ward and Dan Evans on the red dirt though, but he is more of a hard court player and only won five completed matches on clay last season.
Normally that would make him a weak link, but Evans and Ward are hardly fine exponents of clay court tennis, with neither having won a single match in the main draw of a tour event on the red dirt.
Ward did beat Sam Querrey on clay, but the American clay plays nothing like European red clay and I would favour Fognini, Seppi, Paulo Lorenzi or Simone Bolelli against Ward or Evans.
Andy Murray is of course Britain's best hope, but his record on clay is not good and if he and Fognini are both fit I would fancy the latter to win that rubber, but Murray should beat Seppi, who he holds a 5-1 head-to-head against.
If Fognini is struggling it's possible that Murray could win this tie on his own, but how fit is the Brit? He didn't look overly comfortable at Indian Wells or Miami and betting in this match is tricky given the fitness doubt about the two best players.
It may well be that the hosts save Fognini until the doubles on Saturday or reverse singles on Sunday, allowing him a couple of extra days of rest, but Britain certainly don't have that luxury and the doubles could decide this one if Fognini isn't fit to give his best.
GB will surely play Murray and Colin Fleming, which gives them a decent chance, as the Italians usually play Bolelli and Fognini and again that rubber rests on Fabio's condition, as Lorenzi has never played DC doubles and Seppi only has twice.
With or without Fognini at his peak Italy should win this though, with Murray needing to deliver all three points himself for GB to make the semi finals and that seems unlikely on clay in his physical condition.
Elsewhere, the Germany side has been decimated by injury, meaning that they will almost certainly be beaten by a France quartet, who themselves are without Richard Gasquet, while the Swiss should be much too good for Kazakhstan.
The Czech Republic are without Tomas Berdych, but may still beat Japan away from home, but much in that tie also rests on fitness - with Kei Nishikori needing to be at his rarely seen physical peak for the hosts to win that one.
Back Italy to beat Great Britain at [1.55]
Back Italy to win the Davis Cup at [40.0]