Belinda Bencic started Switzerland off in style in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II first-round match, beating Italy's Sara Errani 6-2, 7-5.
It was the fourth career win for the Swiss over her opponent, but also her country's first win in a live Fed Cup rubber in two years.
Viktoriya Golubic followed that up with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over World No.28 Camila Giorgi, meaning Italy now face a massive challenge if they want to avoid a fourth successive Fed Cup away defeat.
Elsewhere, Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko needed two hours and 41 minutes to beat a spirited Rebecca Sramkova of Slovakia 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-1, while her compatriot Anastasija Sevastova needed half the time to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4, 6-0 and move them to a 2-0 lead in the tie.
Canada's Bianca Andreescu beat the Netherlands's Richel Hogenkamp 6-4, 6-1 in 's-Hertogenbosch, getting the visitors off to the perfect start, before Francoise Abanda doubled the lead with her 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-4 win over Arantxa Rus.
Spain and Japan are level at one match apiece after Nao Hibino beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-2 in the first singles match, and then Georgina Garcia Perez equalled things up with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) defeat of Misaki Doi.