Rising Australian star Bernard Tomic on Friday kept his squad from falling behind in their Davis Cup clash with China, winning his singles match to even the tie at 1-1 after the first day of play.
The 18-year-old Tomic, who reached this year's Wimbledon quarter-finals and has seen his ATP ranking soar to a career-high 71, defeated Zhang Ze in four sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
The win helped stave off major embarrassment for the Australian squad in new captain Pat Rafter's first Davis Cup match after Marinko Matosevic, ranked 141st, fell to Chinese teen Wu Di in five sets, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Rafter had warned his team not to be complacent heading into the Asia/Oceania Group I second round tie against China, which they were expected to dominate.
The winner earns a berth in the World Group play-off in September.
Rafter said before that the tie that China were a challenge in the Davis Cup, adding: "I expect them to be very tough and a very disciplined team."
Australia's long-time team leader Lleyton Hewitt - a two-time Grand Slam winner - was left out of the singles line-up but will team up with Chris Guccione in Saturday's doubles rubber against Li Zhe and Gong Mao-Xin.
Hewitt, who made his Davis Cup debut in 1999, is Australia's most successful Davis Cup player with a 36-9 record in singles and 8-3 record in doubles. The tie against China at the Beijing International Tennis Centre is his 30th.
But Hewitt - who has seen his ATP ranking slump to 173rd - was beaten out for the number two singles spot by Matosevic.
China have named a young team including 19-year-old Wu, who is ranked just 404th in the world, 21-year-old Zhang, 23-year-old Gong and 24-year-old Li, a doubles specialist.