Russia was on the verge of eliminating the Americans for the first time, and Argentina was also close to putting Australia in a 2-0 hole in the Davis Cup semifinals.
Marat Safin and Mikhail Youzhny won both opening singles in Moscow for the loss of one set, while David Nalbandian easily won the first point in Buenos Aires and set Argentina on course to uphold his prediction of winning the tie with a day to spare.
Safin justified his selection ahead of higher-ranked teammate Nikolay Davydenko by dispatching Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5), then Youzhny defeated James Blake 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5, leaving the Americans grumbling about the soft clay which needed constant repairing in Olympic Stadium.
The Russians, who haven't lost at home in 10 years, need to win only one of the three remaining rubbers to secure their first berth in the final since their only title in 2002.
And they were delighting in their options for Saturday's doubles, despite facing the world's No. 1 duo of Bob and Mike Bryan, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champions.
Safin said he was available fresh after firing 17 aces past Roddick, and world No. 5 Davydenko was still waiting in the wings.
Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov were named on Thursday to play the doubles but captain Shamil Tarpishchev had until an hour before the rubber to name his official lineup.
"I'm really pleased that the Americans are trying to guess," Youzhny said.