The Bryan brothers produced a ruthless doubles masterclass on Saturday to propel Davis Cup holders United States into a quarter-final showdown with France.
Twins Bob and Mike Bryan did not seem to be troubled by the hastily laid indoor claycourt, which team mate Andy Roddick had lambasted as "terrible", and dispatched Austria's Juergen Melzer and Julian Knowle in just 89 minutes.
The world number ones lived up to their billing as they outclassed the Austrian duo 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to give the Americans an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the world group first-round tie.
"This was a tough match against a difficult team on a surface we don't particularly like and to finish it by Saturday is pretty satisfying," captain Patrick McEnroe said after the US extended their record to 3-0 against the Austrians.
France also wrapped up their tie against Romania in the Transylvanian town of Sibiu with a day to spare.
But unlike the swift victory enjoyed by the Bryans, Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra laboured for more than four hours before wearing down Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 3-6, 6-2.
"It made me mad to see it go to a fifth set. They scared me and all the staff," said French captain Guy Forget.
"Playing the States is a magnificent challenge," he added. "On paper, they're better than we are. They're the best team in the world with Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers."
Argentina, the Czech Republic and Spain also booked their places in the last eight by opening up 3-0 leads but must wait another 24 hours to discover the identity of their next opponents.
The Czechs, who will face Russia or Serbia, ended Belgium's hopes of progressing after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek fought tooth-and-nail to carve out an exhausting 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win over Olivier Rochus and Kristof Vliegen in Ostrava.
Britain's worst nightmare became a reality in Buenos Aires when they failed to win even a set in their first three matches against Argentina.
Back in the world group after a four-year absence, the tie on red clay was always going to be a tall order for a British team without their top player Andy Murray.
Doubles specialist Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins ran out of puff after losing the second set tiebreak 13-11 to David Nalbandian and Jose Acasuso.
A rain break with Argentina leading 2-0 in the third set did little to stop the rot and Nalbandian and Acasuso ended Britain's torment with a 6-2, 7-6, 6-0 victory.
Next up for the Argentines will be Israel or Sweden.
Israel nosed 2-1 in front of the seven-times champions after Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich secured a 6-3, 7-6, 7-5 doubles win over Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt.
After being relegated to a cheerleading role on Friday, an ailing Novak Djokovic was back on familiar territory.
The Australian Open champion could do little to prevent Serbia from going 2-0 down against Russia after he was sidelined with flu-like symptoms.
On Saturday, he came to the rescue by teaming up with Nenad Zimonjic to nudge past Mikhail Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 keeping alive Serbia's chances of pulling off a near impossible comeback against the 2006 champions.
"I had a lot of difficulties in the last few days with a virus infection," world number three Djokovic told reporters.
"I felt pretty exhausted but it's getting better. A lot of people expect me to play tomorrow ... [and] we're not giving up our fight."
Germany will be confident of reaching the quarter-finals after Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner made short work of South Korea's An Jae-sung and Jun Woong-sun to win 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 and give their team a 2-1 lead.
The winners in Braunschweig will face Spain, who completed a 3-0 victory over Peru in Lima when Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco beat Luis Horna and Ivan Miranda 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 in the doubles.