David Ferrer rallied past Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to give defending champion Spain a 1-0 lead over the United States in their Davis Cup semifinal on Friday.
Ferrer started well with a break but trailed after the first set. Querrey, returning to Davis Cup play for the first time since 2010, failed to maintain his early rhythm.
He was broken six times by the fifth-ranked Ferrer.
"On a couple of them, I should have been more aggressive but he played good points," Querrey said. "II feel if I get one of those breaks, it could be a different game."
John Isner will face Nicolas Almagro in the second singles later Friday.
Without an injured Rafael Nadal, Spain aims to reach its fourth final in five years. The winner of the weekend matches will play either Argentina or the Czech Republic in the final in November.
Ferrer played on hard courts in the U.S. Open semifinals on Sunday.
"It's never easy to adapt from hard court to clay, and with only three to four days even less," Ferrer said after improving to 15-0 on clay in the competition. "I didn't feel too bad, but I didn't play perfect tennis either."
The last time either team rallied back from losing the first match of their series was 40 years ago — when the U.S. last beat Spain at home.
Querrey had his opportunities in the fourth set when he bombarded Ferrer with break chances, but couldn't convert the necessary winner to help force a fifth set.
"Rafa's the best clay court player of our time, but Ferrer has been one of the top four or five on the circuit. He's a little bit like a little Nadal," Querrey said.