Cleveland: Karin Knapp and Camila Giorgi won the opening singles for Italy to lead the United States 2-0 in their Fed Cup first-round tie on Saturday.
Knapp beat Christina McHale 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the first match at Cleveland Public Auditorium, and Giorgi routed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-1 in the second.
The United States has never won from 0-2 down since World Group play began in 1995.
McHale, ranked No. 62 in the world, appeared to gain control after closing out the second set by winning the last three games. But the 40th-ranked Knapp dominated the third set.
"In the third set, I changed a little bit of my game because in the second set, I was playing too much cross-court," Knapp said.
McHale had won her last four Fed Cup matches.
In the second match, the 84th-ranked Giorgi dominated the 37th-ranked Keys.
The winner will face the Spain-Czech Republic winner in the semifinals in April.