Tennis / Davis Cup / Israeli underdogs to face French favorites
Former Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 8 in world rankings, to open series against Amir Weintraub, ranked 173rd; Richard Gasquet, ranked 10th, meets 106th-ranked Dudi Sela.
Israel will face a powerhouse French lineup, including Top 10 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, in this weekend's Davis Cup tie in Rouen, France.
Former Australian Open runner-up Tsonga, who is 10-3 in his Davis Cup singles action and No. 8 in the world rankings, will open the series against Amir Weintraub, who is ranked 173rd. Gasquet, ranked 10th, meets 106th-ranked Dudi Sela in Friday's second singles match.
Sela and Yoni Erlich are to play tomorrow's doubles match against France's Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra. Sunday's reverse singles currently call for Tsonga to meet Sela and Gasquet to take on Weintraub.
The winner will qualify for the Davis Cup quarterfinals April 5-7 against the winner of a series between Argentina and Germany.
Israel, in the world group for a 10th year, was a surprise semifinalist in 2009, losing to Spain. France has won nine Davis Cup titles, the first coming in 1927 and the most recent in 2001. France has won all three previous Davis Cup encounters with Israel, the last being in 1998.
The tie will be staged on an indoor hardcourt at Rouen's Kindarena.
France, seeking its first title since 2001, is led by first-year captain Arnaud Clement, while heavy underdog Israel is led by Eyal Ran.