Star duo Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka were not available for the Swiss, who have struggled in their absence as Michael Lammer and Adrien Bossel suffered defeat in the doubles.
Ruben Bemelmans and Niels Desein battled back from a set to down to complete a 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 win, leaving the hosts in control of the tie ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.
Serbia have booked their place in the quarter-finals after Novak Djokovic helped to open up a 3-0 lead over Croatia.
The world No 1 was drafted in as a replacement for Viktor Troicki in the doubles and teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic in a 6-3 6-4 6-1 win over Franko Skugor and Marin Draganja.
Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic decided to rest Troicki after he fought back from two sets down to defeat teenager Borna Coric in a gruelling three-hour clash.
Djokovic cruised to a comfortable win over Mate Delic to open up a 2-0 advantage over Croatia, who are missing the injured Marin Cilic. ??
Italy hold a 2-1 lead over over Kazakhstan after Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli completed a marathon win in the doubles rubber.
The Australian Open champions edged out Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 7-6 6-3 6-7 6-4 in a match which lasted three hours and 18 minutes.
“It was a tough match,” said Italy’s skipper Corrado Barazzutti.
“The hosts played very well but we were just a bit better. They (Fognini and Bolelli) are Australian Open champions and it speaks for itself.”