ROUEN, France (AP) — France beat Israel 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-0 in the doubles on Saturday for an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the Davis Cup first-round match and a place in the quarterfinals.
After Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet won their singles on Friday, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra had little trouble brushing aside Israel's makeshift pairing of Jonathan Erlich and Dudi Sela after a competitive first set.
The only danger for France came when Benneteau swiped a forehand from the back of the court that just missed Llodra's head before landing in to give France its first match point. Benneteau missed an easy smash at the net but Llodra's ace on the next point sealed victory.
"My players finished the match well to win that third point. The first set was very close. They gave them no chance in the second and third set," France captain Arnaud Clement said. "At no point did they take the Israeli team lightly. They respected them."
France will play either Argentina or Germany in the quarterfinals in April, with Clement saying he faces a selection dilemma in the coming weeks as Gael Monfils is likely to push for a place in the team.
"I'm very lucky as a captain, for my first match, to be able to choose between players who are in form. We have players in the top 10, (Olympic) medal winners and other players who I'm sure will find their best form again shortly," Clement said. "I have a lot of questions to ask myself before the next match, and it's really a luxury to have all of the questions."
Clement first has to decide whether to change his lineup for Sunday's reverse singles. A backhand winner down the line and a smash from Llodra gave France a 2-0 lead in the first-set tiebreaker, and the French moved 5-2 up with two aces from Benneteau.
The match became easier for the French after that as the Israeli pair struggled on serve. In the fourth game of the second set, Erlich double faulted to give France its first break and a 3-1 lead. The French broke the Israeli pair again to go 5-1 up and Benneteau held to love to clinch the second set.
Erlich lost his serve again at the start of the third set and Benneteau's aggressive play helped secure yet another break as France raced 3-0 ahead and took complete control.