France completed a 5-0 Davis Cup whitewash of Australia as teenagers Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis suffered straight-sets defeats on the final day of their World Group tie.
Arriving buoyed by a return to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 2007, Pat Rafter’s squad left La Roche sur Yon humbled by a star-studded French team as they won just a single set during the three-day claycourt tie.
With France having taken an unassailable 3-0 lead on Saturday, Rafter took the chance to give his rising stars some valuable court time in the two dead singles rubbers on Sunday.
Kokkinakis was easily accounted for by Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-1 while Kyrgios faired slightly better against Gael Monfils, losing 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
The defeat means Australia must return to the World Group playoffs in September against a yet-to-be-determined opponent to fight for a place in the top 16 in 2015.
An Australian side missing the injured Bernard Tomic was always tipped to struggle on clay and away from home against a French side spearheaded by top-10 stars Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Rafter selected Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, just 18 and 17 respectively, alongside Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione, overlooking more experienced options including Marinko Matosevic and Matt Ebden.
And the captain will be hoping the experience, albeit painful, will hold the youngsters in good stead in coming years.
Kokkinakis, on his Davis Cup debut, started well in Sunday’s first singles match, matching Benneteau for much of the first set.
However, he fell away in the second as the Frenchman, ranked 362 places higher at world No.39, cruised to victory.
Kyrgios, who suffered a first-day defeat to Gasquet, fought back from a break down to send the first set against Monfils into a tiebreaker but the Frenchman edged it.
In an entertaining duel between players of similar style, 162nd-ranked Kyrgios also showed good fight in the second set but world No.30 Monfils again proved too good in the key moments.
The tie was played in great spirit and both Benneteau and Monfils were clearly entertained by the chants of a small but enthusiastic group of Australian Fanatics.
The hosts officially clinched victory when Gasquet and Tsonga combined in a four-set doubles win over Hewitt and Guccione on Saturday.
The impressive Tsonga defeated Hewitt in straight sets on day one.
France, considered contenders for this year’s title, will host Germany in the quarter-finals.
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