Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot failed to undo avenge defeats to Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund
The double defeat of singles players Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans had left the British pair with a mountain to climb to come back and win the best-of-five tie, but the first hurdle was simply to avoid the first 3-0 defeat since Ukraine in 2009.
In the end they did not manage even that, crashing to a 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 defeat in the bear-pit atmosphere of Rouen’s Kindarena in 3 hour 20 mins.
That said, with score level at one-set all and break up in the third, it was the visitors who were playing the better tennis.
Having narrowly lost the opening set in a tie-break, they broke for the first time at the end of the second set and seemed to be bullying the French pair into submission, Inglot double fist-pumping the floor when he secured the set with a delicious lob.
Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau won the tie in five sets
However, Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau are experienced adversaries ad rallied after falling behind in the third to break back.
It was the latter in particular who turned on the style in the crucial stages, producing two set points out of nowhere, and though Britain defended them manfully, when faced by a third, Murray suffered his first double fault of the match.
There was a sense that it was a real turning point in the game and the home crowd raised the volume as France looked to turn the screw in the fourth set with some exemplary doubles play, with Mahut at one point successfully getting the ball back into play despite having jumped outside the advertising hoardings.
Sun, July 10, 2016
The world famous Wimbledon Championships 2016
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
1 of 180
Andy Murray kisses the championship trophy following his win over Milos Raonic of Canada in the men's singles final of the Wimbledon Championships
Britain have won 17 of their last 19 doubles rubbers – only America’s Bryan brothers have been able to beat them in that period.
Once again it was left to Murray to serve to stay in the set but the French were on fire. A venomous Mahut return brought up the first match point which was saved by a tentative trade of shots at the net.
Mahut simply leant back and produced a sumptuous lob to set up a second and this time when Murray’s volley bounced into the net cord, the ball spun tantalisingly backwards and France were through.