(CNN) -- Italy are in a strong position to claim the Fed Cup after building up a 2-0 lead over an under strength United States team in the final in Reggio Calabria.
The experienced Italian team, with the advantage of playing on home clay, are facing a U.S. line-up missing Serena and Venus Williams who opted out of the finale of the team competition after meeting in the final of the WTA Tour Championship in Doha.
Flavia Pennetta set the scene for the home side by beating Alexa Glatch 6-3 6-1 in the first rubber.
Francesca Schiavone sealed a 2-0 lead by beating Melanie Oudin 7-6 6-2.
Reverse singles and a doubles are scheduled for Sunday, with the home side needing just one win to seal victory.
World number 11 Flavia Pennetta used her powerful baseline play to dominate against a player ranked 121 places lower, breaking early in the opening set to take command.
Glatch could never get into the game as her service misfired and despite breaking her opponent at the start of the second set lost the next six to stumble to defeat in one hour five minutes.
Promising teenager Oudin reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open but found Schiavone a tough proposition.
She led 4-2 before an interruption for rain and was broken on resumption, the Italian taking the tiebreak for the loss of just two points.
Oudin also gained an break at the start of the second set, but Schiavone, 11 years her senior, took the next five and closed out the match in straight sets.