"Gardini," proclaimed the Italian papers soon after, "was beaten more by cramps than by the skill of his opponent."
It was well after 4 o'clock when unorthodox Whitney Reed took the center court in the second singles match against Nicola Pietrangeli, who is rated one of the best amateurs in Europe. Cheered by his teammate's victory and characteristically full of confidence, Reed refused to be intimidated. "I can take this guy," he told a friend, and then proceeded to do just that—almost. He chewed up the Italian's service and forced the normally impeccable Nicola into error after error on his own return. "Nicola, Nicola," moaned the disillusioned and unbelieving Italian fans in the lengthening shadows of darkness and defeat.
Indeed, if darkness had not overtaken Italy before the issue was forced, Reed might have gone right on to take the match and give the U.S. a commanding lead for the cup. As it was, however, the match was recessed with Reed leading two sets to love and Pietrangeli ahead four games to three in the third set. By next morning the Italian had regained his composure and was again at the top of his game. Reed seemed scarcely present as the Italian took the remaining games and sets almost effortlessly to win the match.
Sad to say, from then on the Americans never had a chance. On Sunday, Captain Freed chose Reed rather than Douglas, whose smashing play might have been more effective than Reed's delicate touch strokes on the soft surface, to team up with Donald Dell in the doubles. This untried combination was pitted against Orlando Sirola and Pietrangeli, a doubles team that had won 29 Davis Cup victories for Italy. The result was a U.S. defeat in four sets and the virtual end of American Davis Cup hopes for another year. Even the one set taken by Reed and Dell in the doubles was not so much won by the Americans as lost by their opponents during a spell when Sirola suddenly and unaccountably was unable to get the ball over the net. By the third set, however, the gigantic (6 feet 7 inches) carefree Italian player was back in form again and from then on Italy's right to challenge Australia for the cup was never again in contention.
The doubles match which gave Italy its lead and the final singles matches which clinched the round went so predictably in Italy's favor that even the Italian fans watched in relative quiet. During the first set of his decisive match against Pietrangeli—which was no match at all—young Douglas, only the sixth-ranked player in the U.S., fought tenaciously to hold his opponent to a 9-7 victory, but the effort took all he had. Pietrangeli won the next two sets easily 6-3, 6-2 to capture the match and the round for Italy, leaving nothing in the way of glory for the agile—and miraculously recovered—Gardini but the formality of trouncing Reed in a five-set match that no longer mattered.