Boom teenager Nick Kyrgios was outclassed by Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 6-2 before veteran Lleyton Hewitt went down to world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-2) in La Roche sur Yon.
Australia’s return to the competition’s top 16 for the first time since 2007 shapes as a brief one with the visitors needing to win Saturday’s doubles rubber just to keep the claycourt tie alive.
Without Bernard Tomic, Australia were always expected struggle although Kyrgios did start brightly against world number nine Gasquet.
The 18-year-old matched it with his more fancied opponent in the first set and held a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker before losing six straight points to concede the set.
Playing on his least favourite surface, Kyrgios was unable to trouble Gasquet any further with the Frenchman wrapping up victory in just over two hours.
Tsonga raced through the first two sets of his clash against Hewitt as he looked to preserve his record of never having dropped a set to the former world number one.
Hewitt did typically mount a fightback in the third set, but was unable to prolong the match as Tsonga easily won the tiebreaker to seal the victory in less than two hours.
Hewitt returns to the court on Saturday to partner Chris Guccione against Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils.