Italy tied Croatia 1-1 in the first round of the Davis Cup on Friday after Andreas Seppi beat Ivan Dodig 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4.
In the opening singles on red clay, Marin Cilic of Croatia rallied past Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-7 (6), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 3 hours, 43 minutes. Lorenzi was a late replacement for flu-ridden Fabio Fognini.
Saturday's doubles in the best-of-five series pits Italy's Simone Bolelli and Lorenzi against Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic.
Seppi is ranked a career-high No. 18 after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Italy is looking to win its first World Group series since 1998, when it finished runner-up. Croatia won the Davis Cup in 2005. The winner faces Spain or Canada in the quarterfinals.