Nikola Mektić, pictured, and Mate Pavić, the world's top two doubles players, helped Croatia beat Italy and reach the last four of the Davis Cup Finals ©Getty Images

Croatia defeated co-hosts Italy 2-1 as the knockout stages of the Davis Cup Finals got underway, with the world's top two doubles players securing victory in the decisive doubles rubber.

The first knockout match of the men’s team tennis tournament, held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, pitted two-time winners Croatia, whose last success came in 2018, against Italy, whose only success in this event came in 1976.

Group D winners Croatia took a surprise lead in the tie winning the first singles rubber courtesy of Boran Gojo, a 23-year-old with a current career singles ranking of 279.

Gojo, whose highest ranking came in September last year when he reached 208, beat Lorenzo Sonego, the world number 27, in three sets 7-6, 2-6, 6-2.

The second rubber pitted Jannik Sinner, the world number 10, representing Italy, against world number 30 Marin Čilić, a member of Croatia’s 2018 winning team, and the doubles silver medallist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The contest again went the distance with Čilić taking the first set 6-3, before Sinner battled back from a break down in the second to take the second set on a tie-break 7-6, after his opponent had served for the match.

Sinner then continued his momentum into the decider which he took 6-3 to send the contest into a decisive doubles rubber.

In the doubles rubber Croatia were represented by Tokyo 2020 doubles gold medallists Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić, currently ranked numbers two and one in the doubles world rankings respectively.

The Croatian pairing faced Fabio Fognini, playing alongside Sinner, with Mektić and Pavić winning 6-3, 6-4 to silence a lively home crowd.

Quarter-final action continues tomorrow with Britain, who won Group C, facing Germany, the Group F winners, behind closed doors at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck, Austria.