David Nalbandian completed a straight-sets win over Marat Safin to pull Argentina level with Russia at 1-1 in the Davis Cup final in Moscow.
Nalbandian has only beaten Safin three times in nine meetings
The world number eight overpowered Safin 6-4 6-4 6-4, breaking early in the first two sets and then in the seventh game of the third set.
Nikolay Davydenko had given Russia the lead in the tie by beating Juan Ignacio Chela in the opening rubber.
The world number three claimed a 6-1 6-2 5-7 6-4 victory.
Davydenko, who had lost his five previous matches against Chela, dominated the first two sets, breaking his opponent twice in the opener and twice more in the second.
Chela took the third but Davydenko took control in the fourth to win in just over three hours.
Despite serving 21 aces, Safin, the former US and Australian Open champion struggled at times against Nalbandian.
"It was a very tough match. It was a three-setter but when he served his first serve well sometimes I could do nothing," said Nalbandian, who sealed victory with an ace.
"I think I played a very good match. It's very good for me that we played in three sets as I will have to play tomorrow and on Sunday. But now I feel fresh."
Nalbandian will be back in action in Saturday's doubles when he teams up with Agusin Calleri against Mikhail Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov.
The tie is taking place on the fast carpet surface at the Olympic Sports Complex in Moscow.
Russia are playing in the Davis Cup final for the first time since beating France to win the 2002 title.
Argentina, who lost to the United States in the 1981 final, are making only their second appearance.
But they are receiving support from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who is in Moscow for the final.
Friday (starting 1000 GMT):
Nikolay Davydenko (Rus) bt Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg)
Marat Safin (Rus) lost to David Nalbandian (Arg)
Mikhail Youzhny/Dmitry Tursunov (Rus) v David Nalbandian/Agustin Calleri (Arg)
Sunday (1000 GMT):
Nikolay Davydenko (Rus) v David Nalbandian (Arg)
Marat Safin (Rus) v Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg)