Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova both recorded singles victories as Czech Republic finished day one of their Fed Cup semi-final with Germany 2-0 ahead.
Both Czech players recorded straight-set victories on the indoor clay surface, and the 10-time champions know one more point will see them progress to the final.
Defending champions United States are level with France in the other tie, Kristina Mladenovic making it 1-1 after Sloane Stephens had overcome Pauline Parmentier in a see-saw opening battle.
Meanwhile, there were a host of big names involved in the play-offs further down the competition.
Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko all came through without any problems, but only the latter claimed a straight-sets victory.
PETRA LEADS THE WAY
Kvitova found herself 3-1 down in the opening set with Julia Goerges, but the world number 10 rattled off five in-a-row to move ahead in the match.
She did not look back from there as she completed a 6-3 6-2 victory, the second set taking just 28 minutes.
Pliskova followed suit against former world number one Angelique Kerber as the Czechs – who have won five of the last six editions of the competition – took control ahead of the doubles on Sunday.
HONOURS EVEN IN FRANCE
Stephens beat Parmentier 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 but it was a tough opener for the holders in front of a raucous home crowd that included former world No 1 Amelie Mauresmo.
Parmentier raced out to a 5-2 lead in the opener but failed to take five set-point opportunities, allowing her opponent to rally before taking the lead courtesy of a tie-break.
Stephens was pushed hard in the second set too, fighting back from a break down to clinch victory with a crunching forehand winner in the 12th game.
However, team-mate Coco Vandeweghe blew a one-set lead against Mladenovic, who snapped her opponent's 13-rubber winning streak in the competition with an impressive 1-6 6-3 6-2 triumph.
HALEP SURVIVES SCARE
The pressure was on world number one Simona Halep as she opened up for Romania, and she survived a scare to ease past Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-3 1-6 6-1.
Halep was broken in the first game of the match and lost five in a row in the second set, but she dug deep to give Romania a 1-0 advantage, with Irina-Camelia Begu putting them in the driving seat for a World Group place next year with victory over Timea Bacsinszky.
In the World Group II play-offs, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Ekaterina Makarova as Latvia finished day one against Russia 1-1, while Spain – led by Garbine Muguruza – hold a 2-0 lead over Paraguay.
|Cipriani fined £2,000 by Gloucester|
|Mourinho will be sacked before Christmas, says Sharpe|
|England face record chase after Kohli smashes India to huge lead|
|Ozil captaining Arsenal a miracle - Hoeness|
|Japan players apologise for ´thoughtless, careless´ actions at Asian Games|
|Henry wants Bordeaux job, Wenger confirms|
|Pogba too inconsistent and not a leader, claims Scholes|
|PCB chairman Sethi resigns in letter to Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan|
|US Open comes too soon for Tsonga|
|Unpredictable results making 2018 F1 season a classic - Wolff|
|Mendy restricts phone use on Guardiola advice|
|Modric brands Inter approach claim ´the greatest nonsense in history´|
|Runners and Ryders: Olesen leapfrogs Poulter into last Team Europe berth|
|Kenedy escapes further action over Camarasa kick|
|England´s Bairstow suffers ´small fracture´ to finger|
|Gonalons joins Sevilla on loan from Roma|
|Modric, Ronaldo and Salah final UEFA Player of the Year nominees|
|Tottenham to play opening Champions League home match at Wembley|
|Karius´ Champions League blunders did not lead to Alisson signing - Klopp|
|Leeds considered €20m Conte offer before turning to Bielsa|
|Modric, Rakitic lead new era for World Cup finalists Croatia|
|Storm´s Chambers banned for three weeks, Smith injury not serious|
|Porte to race Vuelta after recovering from Tour crash|
|The Career Golden Masters: A run-down of Djokovic´s magnificent record|
|Japan send home four basketball players from Asian Games amid prostitution scandal|
|Rugby tackle bags helping Liverpool´s Alisson with Premier League life|
|Federer raring to go at US Open after Djokovic defeat|
|Chelsea boss Sarri plans to give up smoking|
|Alonso´s Toyota team stripped of Silverstone victory|
|Ceballos: No issue with former Real Madrid boss Zidane|
|MLS Review: Martinez equals single-season goalscoring record|
|Astros avoid sweep with win over Athletics|
|Seppi advances, Paire exits Winston-Salem|
|Bale feeling good as Madrid eye sweep of trophies|
|You can´t leave a house three-quarters built – Neville urges United to back Mourinho|
|Dodgers slugger Machado leaves game after being struck by pitch|
|Harden says Carmelo will ´be a good fit´ for Rockets|
|Morata: I never considered Chelsea exit|
|Gavrilova kicks off title defence in New Haven|
|Lopetegui pleased with Bale and Real Madrid after LaLiga opener|
|It´s a very special moment – Djokovic revels in Golden Masters achievement|
|Sorrentino thanks Ronaldo for support after injury|
|Twins place Santana on DL with finger injury|
|Yankees´ Gregorius suffers ´pretty significant´ heel bruise|
|Snedeker ends PGA Tour drought with Wyndham Championship win|
|Spalletti unconcerned despite Inter´s underwhelming start|
|Djokovic makes history with Masters clean sweep in Cincinnati|
|Real Madrid 2 Getafe 0: Bale gives Lopetegui first LaLiga win|
|IndyCar driver Wickens taken to hospital after crash|
|Sherman calls for NFL to scrap ´idiotic´ helmet rule|
|Sassuolo 1 Inter 0: New-look Nerazzurri given early reality check|
|Hughton: Shock United win does not alter scale of Brighton´s task|
|Navas keeps place as Courtois waits on Madrid debut|
|Ndidi signs long-term Leicester City contract|
|Pandya tears through feeble England to put India in command|
|Alonso creates motorsport history with victory at Silverstone|
|Kovacic: Chelsea and Sarri believe in me|
|Brighton loss a big lesson for United – Pogba|
|Mistakes hit United´s confidence - Mourinho|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 3 Manchester United 2: Murray lifts Seagulls to another win over Mourinho|
|Quickfire Moon treble sets up Rhinos win|
|Manchester City celebrate win with Silva´s son|
|Brentford 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Maupay stars as Bees buzz by Owls|
|Guardiola delighted with fit and firing Aguero|
|Waring marks 200th event with maiden title in Gothenburg|
|Guardiola dismisses Mourinho´s ´disrespectful´ accusation|
|Hulkenberg proud to survive in F1´s pay driver era|
|It´s here, it´s real, get on with it - Dyche dismisses Europa League excuse|
|Grujic agrees Liverpool extension, joins Hertha on loan|
|Martial starts as Lukaku, Young return for Manchester United|