With Roger Federer sitting out, Switzerland lost a doubles match to Italy in a Davis Cup playoff and had its lead cut to 2-1.
Simone Bolelli and Potito Starace beat Marco Chiudinelli and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (3) Saturday.
In Thursday's draw, Federer was selected to team with Wawrinka, reviving the team that won the Olympic doubles title last year. But Switzerland captain Severin Luthi decided to rest Federer in favor of the 117th-ranked Chiudinelli.
The Swiss team said the change was purely tactical, and that there was no problem with Federer, who watched from the front row. Federer can seal the tie with a win over Andreas Seppi in the first of Sunday's reverse singles matches.
The winner will return to the World Group next year.