MALAGA, Spain, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Netherlands' Botic van de Zandschulp rallied from a set down to beat Matteo Arnaldi 6-7(6) 6-3 7-6(7) in their Davis Cup quarter-final as the dark horses took a 1-0 lead over former champions Italy on Thursday.
The Dutch are now one win away from matching their best result of reaching the semi-finals of the premier men's team competition in 2001, where a team featuring current captain Paul Haarhuis were beaten by eventual champions France.
Italy have been boosted by the return of world number four Jannik Sinner and the 22-year-old, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals title clash on Sunday, can level the tie when he meets Tallon Griekspoor.
Arnaldi squandered two set points and saved one before the world number 44 won a tight opening set in the tiebreak when Van de Zandschulp sent a forehand long.
The Dutchman pounced to level the contest after Arnaldi dropped serve in the eighth game of the second set and the world number 51 saved match points in the decider to pull off a victory after nearly three hours.
Italy won their only Davis Cup title in 1976 and are looking to reach back-to-back semi-finals for the first time since three straight last-four appearances in 1996-98.
Filippo Volandri's side will need to rely on veteran Simone Bolelli and Lorenzo Sonego if the tie heads to a doubles decider where the duo would take on experienced Dutchmen Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer.
The winners of the tie will take on a Serbia side featuring world number one Novak Djokovic or Britain, who face each other in their quarter-final later on Thursday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)