Russia and Italy, who have won eight of the last 12 Fed Cup titles, crashed out of this year’s tournament while defending champions Czech Republic survived to set-up a semi-final duel with Switzerland.
Russia, the champions in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands in Moscow.
Italy, who were title winners in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013, were also dumped out in the first round, going down 4-1 to France in Marseille.
But Switzerland, who have never won the Fed Cup, made the semi-finals for the first time in 18 years with a thrilling 3-2 win over Germany in Leipzig thanks to Belinda Bencic and Martina Hingis clinching the decisive doubles.
While the Netherlands and 2003 champions France meet in one semi-final in April, the Swiss will tackle the Czechs, who edged out Romania 3-2, in the other.
The Dutch, without a single player in the top 100, made the semi-finals for the first time since 1997 after Kiki Bertens defeated two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4.
Kuznetsova, the world 17, had lost a four-hour marathon against Richel Hogenkamp on Saturday in the longest singles match ever played at a Fed Cup.
The 24-year-old Bertens, ranked at 106, took her Fed Cup singles record to 13 wins and one loss after the Dutch, 2-0 up overnight, claimed a famous win against a Russian team who had Maria Sharapova warming the bench all weekend.
Russia captain Anastasia Myskina said she wasn’t tempted to risk Sharapova, who won both singles rubbers in the country’s 2015 final loss to the Czech Republic.
“No, she had a problem with her left arm and that wasn’t good. We decided on Thursday that she wouldn’t play,” said Myskina.
In Leipzig, 18-year-old Bencic won her third point of the weekend when she teamed up with 35-year-old Hingis to beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-3, 6-2.