Alexander Zverev crushed Peter Nagy of Hungary to put Germany within touching distance of a place in the finals of the revamped Davis Cup on Friday.
The German World No 3 beat the Hungarian, who finished 2018 outside the top 600, 6-2, 6-2, to put Germany 2-0 up with the doubles and reverse singles all to be played on Saturday.
Philipp Kohlschreiber had opened the tie in Frankfurt by outlasting Zsombor Piros 6-7 (8/6), 7-5, 6-4.
Former champions Australia, Russia and Serbia also took 2-0 leads.
John Millman brushed aside Bosnian No 1 Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-2, in Adelaide, before rising star Alex De Minaur beat Mirza Basic 6-3, 7-6 (7/0) to claim his first Davis Cup win.
"It's a dream come true for me, and I'm so happy I finally was able to get a win for my country in Davis Cup," said the 19-year-old De Minaur.
"You're playing for your bench, you're playing for your country – we don't get to do that every week."
Serbia also moved to within one win of qualification despite the absence of Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, as Dusan Lajovic saw off world number 593 Sanjar Fayziev 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, before Filip Krajinovic's 6-2, 6-4 win over Denis Istomin in Tashkent.
Russian youngster Daniil Medvedev survived a scare against Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen in their opening rubber, winning 7-6 (10/8), 6-7 (6/8), 6-2 to give the visitors the lead in Biel.
Then world number 11 Karen Khachanov's beat 362nd-ranked Marc-Andrea Huesler, 6-3, 7-5.
MEDVEDEV SURVIVES SCARE
Italy also led 2-0 against India in Kolkata and Kazakhstan claimed the first two points against Portugal, with Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin beating Joao Sousa and Pedro Sousa respectively.
Three other ties were level at the end of the first day.
Czech No 1 Jiri Vesely came from a set down to beat Tallon Griekspoor 5-7 6-4 6-4 in Ostrava but then the top Dutch player, Robin Haase, squared the tie by beating Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-4.
Taro Daniel drew Japan level at 1-1 with China in Guangzhou by beating Zhang Ze, after Yoshihito Nishioka's shock loss to Li Zhe.
In Salzburg, Nicolas Jarry gave Chile the lead beating Austrian debutant Jurij Rodionov 7-5 7-5 before Dennis Novak beat Christian Garin.
Brazil took a 1-0 lead at home in Uberlandia as Thiago Monteiro dispatched Belgian Arthur de Greef, 6-3, 6-1.
Rubbers are now played in a best-of-three-set format, replacing the long-used best-of-five, with the reverse singles matches to now be played on Saturday after the doubles, shortening the ties by one day to two.
The 12 winners in qualifying this weekend will join automatic qualifiers Croatia, France, United States, Spain, Argentina and Britain in November's finals in Madrid.