Israel will have to play for its survival in the Davis Cup World Group in September after dropping to an unassailable 3-0 deficit to France in the first round tie in Rouen on Saturday.

The national team entered the encounter as a massive underdog and was predictably outplayed by the superior French.

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Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers will be inconsequential after Dudi Sela and Yoni Erlich fell to a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-0 loss on Saturday to veteran doubles experts Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra following Friday’s two defeats in the singles.

Amir Weintraub, ranked No. 173 in the world, gave Israel some reason for optimism with his impressive performance in Friday’s 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 defeat to world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. However, Sela (106) was completely outplayed in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 loss to Richard Gasquet (10) before also falling in the doubles with Erlich.

French captain Arnaud Clement said he expects Weintraub to end the year in the top-100 and the Israeli was delighted with his showing.

“I don’t know if I could have won – probably not – but I would have liked to have taken it to a fifth set,” he said. “I had a good chance to make it 6-all.

I took a set from the No. 8 in the world, it’s a big thing for me and I was very close in the fourth set. He’s a great, great, great player.”

Sela is scheduled to play Tsonga in Sunday’s first singles match before Weintraub faces Gasquet, although both captains could change their selections in the morning.

“This defeat hasn’t sunk in just yet,” said Israel captain Eyal Ran, who will have to wait until the summer to discover who his team will face in the World Group playoffs in September. “Nevertheless, we are proud of what we have achieved in the past year and we hope to end the tie in a respectable manner with a win on Sunday.”
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