Australia are facing an uphill task in their Davis Cup tie against Austria after the hosts won both singles rubbers on day one in Graz.
World No.8 Dominic Thiem, heir apparent to Rafael Nadal as the king of clay, hammered an out-of-form Jordan Thompson 6-1 6-3 6-0 in just 95 minutes to the delight of a noisy home crowd at the Messe Congress complex.
In the second match, world No.35 Alex de Minaur faced Dennis Novak - ranked 98 places below him - and took the opening set in routine fashion.
However, the 19-year-old fell apart after his strong start, and was broken nine times on his way to a 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-2 defeat with Novak sealing victory on his second match point.
The pressure is now firmly on doubles specialist John Peers, who will be partnered by Thompson against Austrian veteran Jurgen Meltzer and Oliver Marach on Saturday, to keep the tie alive.
"Both the Austrians were fantastic," said Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt.
"It's a must-win match for us on Saturday."
Hewitt opted against playing US Open quarter-finalist John Millman against Thiem and has until an hour before the match to make any changes to the doubles line-up.
In the absence of Nick Kyrgios, Millman is Australia's highest-ranked player at 34 following his run to the last eight in New York this month.
But the Queenslander has been struggling with illness since joining the team earlier this week.
The 29-year-old could come into the consideration if Hewitt opts to leave out the struggling Thompson.
The Sydneysider has fallen to 111 in the world having been as high as 65 in February last year and failed to make it past the opening round of any of this year's grand slams.
However, the 24-year-old does boast a solid Davis Cup record and he and Peers were successful on clay together against Belgium last year.
Peers, ranked seventh in the ATP's individual doubles standings, is confident he and Thompson can get Australia back into the tie.
"Tommo and I played really well last time on clay in Belgium so we've got a lot of confidence going in together," Peers said.
"We've done a lot of work over the last year or two in the Davis Cup squad together.
"I'm really looking forward to getting out there on Saturday and putting our best foot forward.
The winner of the tie will be seeded for the qualifying round of the revamped Davis Cup in February.