(CNN) -- Two-time defending champions Russia are facing defeat in their Fed Cup semifinal against Italy at Castellaneta Marina.
Pennetta put Italy ahead with a comprehensive win over Chakvetadze.
Russia have won the team trophy five times in the last six years but are trailing 2-0 after the first day.
Flavia Pennetta put the home side ahead on the clay courts with a 6-4 6-0 thrashing of Anna Chakvetadze, who came in as a late replacement for the injured Vera Zvonareva.
World number nine Svetlana Kuznetsova was expected to level against Francesca Schiavone, but went down to a 1-6 6-2 6-3 defeat in just under two and a half hours.
Sunday's play sees Pennetta face Kuznetsova and Schiavone up against Chakvetadze.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are teamed to play the doubles against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Nadia Petrova.
In the second semi-final in Brno, the visiting United States are level at 1-1 with the Czech Republic.
The U.S., missing the Williams sisters, went 1-0 down as Petra Kvitova beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 7-6.
But Fed Cup rookie Alexa Glatch beat Iveta Benesova 6-1 6-2 to give her side hope going into the second day.
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