Great Britain have crashed out of the 2017 Davis Cup at the quarter-final stage with a day to spare after Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray were defeated 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 by French duo Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau in Saturday's (8 April) engrossing solitary doubles rubber.
After Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans fell at the hands of Lucas Pouille and Jeremy Chardy in yesterday's opening singles matches, Inglot and Murray needed to claim victory on the indoor clay court at Rouen's Le Kindarena to keep the tie alive and prevent France from taking an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Fifth-ranked Mahut and Benneteau, partnered together once more with Pierre-Hugues Herbert absent due to injury, saved three set points en route to taking a thrilling tiebreak 9-7.
Inglot secured a timely break late in the second and Murray, whose brother and world number one Andy was ruled out of the last-eight clash due to an elbow problem, held serve to finally claim a set for 2015 champions GB.
The visitors resisted big pressure on their own serve and then broke again to take a 3-2 lead in the third set. They saved another flurry of break points before France finally hit back to level things at 4-4. A Murray double fault eventually ceded control of the match once more.
The fourth set stayed on serve until nine-time competition winners France, through to the semi-finals for the fifth time in seven years, forced two match points in game number 12. The first was saved before Murray sent a volley into the net.
"We did not have a lot of opportunities to break them," Benneteau told the BBC after helping to set up a semi-final tie against Serbia, who lead Spain 3-0 thanks to Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic.
"We waited for it. We still believed in the comeback and the way we found the key to return well. Since we had opportunities to break I think it was a different game. Doubles in the Davis Cup, even on clay, was a different game."
Mahut added: "We haven't won this competition since 2001. We are still competing without big names. It's my first time to play at home and it was a great tie. We wish to play the final and bring back the trophy to France."
Despite France having already made sure of victory, Sunday's reverse singles rubbers will still take place as planned. Evans is due to take on Pouille, while Edmund is scheduled to meet Chardy. The latter was chosen ahead of Gilles Simon by French captain Yannick Noah, who is without the likes of Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.
For GB, it is the first time in three years that they have failed to reach the semi-finals. They have not been on the receiving end of a Davis Cup whitewash since 2009.