Without Roger Federer, Switzerland lost in doubles to Italy and had its lead cut to 2-1 in their Davis Cup semifinal on Saturday.
The Swiss decided to rest Federer and paired Stan Wawrinka with Marco Chiudinelli instead. They lost 7-5, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 against Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli at Palexpo indoor arena.
Federer, who played in the U.S. Open semifinals last weekend, won his team's first point on Friday by beating Bolelli in straight sets.
The Swiss No. 1 can clinch victory in the tie against Fognini in Sunday's opening reverse singles.
The winner plays France or two-time defending champion Czech Republic in the final on Nov. 21-23.
Watched by Federer on the sidelines, the Swiss pair seemed in control of the match until losing serve to trail 4-2 in the fourth set.
The Italians broke Chiudinelli's serve for a 2-1 lead in the decider and held off Swiss pressure to hold in the next game.
On Fognini's serve, Italy took its third match-point chance when Bolelli put away an overhead at the net.
The 3-hour, 57-minute five-setter was nothing unusual for the Wawrinka-Chiudinelli pairing on this court.
They were involved in the longest doubles match in Davis Cup history at Palexpo in February 2013. Then, the Swiss lost 24-22 in the deciding set after a 7-hour, 1-minute marathon against Czech pair Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol.
Switzerland has never won the Davis Cup and reached its only final 22 years ago, losing to a United States team of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.