Mark Woodforde, Australia's top-ranked player, and the veteran, Wally Masur, took full advantage of the weakened American team, both winning in four sets on grass at Kooyong to set up the chance of outright victory in today's doubles.
The left-handed Woodforde, recalled to Australia's team after three years, fought back from one set down to beat David Wheaton 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.
It was the 27-year-old Woodforde's first victory over Wheaton in three meetings and justified the faith of the captain, Neale Fraser, in recalling him after four previous Cup defeats.
Though Wheaton served 19 aces, he double-faulted twice in the second-set tie-break and then gave Woodforde the first and vital service break in the ninth game of the fourth set.
Earlier Masur had given Australia a great start by beating Brad Gilbert, the only American with previous Davis Cup experience, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 6-2.
The Olympic champion, Marc Rosset, overcame India's Ramesh Krishnan 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the second singles to help Switzerland, who lost to the United States in last year's final, share the opening day's honours in another first-round tie in Calcutta.Reuse content