Israel faces an all but impossible mission in the first round of the 2013 Davis Cup World Group after being drawn to visit France on Wednesday.

The gulf between the Israeli and French Davis Cup teams is perhaps best captured by the fact that captain Arnaud Clement has nine top- 100 players, including three in the top-20, to pick from, while Eyal Ran has currently not even got one.

France, which lost 3-2 to the USA in the quarterfinals in April, is led by world No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with Richard Gasquet (14) and Gilles Simon (20) the team’s two other top- 20 players.

Gael Monfils has dropped to No. 44 in the ATP rankings due to injury, but he is a former top-10 player, while Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra make up a dangerous doubles duo.

“This is one of the toughest draws we could have received,” said Israel’s Andy Ram, who is still waiting to discover the full extent of the right hip injury he suffered in the doubles win over Japan in Tokyo.

“France is a team with a great Davis Cup tradition and with very good and experienced players. It is disappointing that we will be playing on the road again, but the win against Japan opened our appetite to continue and succeed with this special team. I believe that we will put on a respectable showing.”

Israel and France have faced each other in the Davis Cup three times in the past, with the French winning all three meetings, including a 4-1 victory in Ramat Hasharon in 1998.

On paper, it seems all but inevitable that Israel will fall to the French again in the tie which will take place over the weekend of February 1-3, 2013.

However, Amir Weintraub, who was Israel’s hero in the 3-2 victory over Japan in the World Group playoffs, winning both his singles matches over the weekend, remains optimistic.

“This is a very difficult draw,” he said. “We all wanted to play at home, but we will do all we can to build on our recent high level of play when we face France.”

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