Les Bleus, chasing a first title since 2001, are now 2-1 down against Switzerland after Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau lost 6-3 7-5 6-4 to Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
To add to their problems they have doubts about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s fitness after the French number one did not play on Saturday despite being tipped to pair up with Gasquet.
“I know everybody expected to see Jo playing doubles today but Richard and Julien was an interesting option,” captain Arnaud Clement told a news conference.
“Jo played four sets (on Friday). We knew Federer and Stan would play today and play again on Sunday. It was a good option for him to rest, for him to have a lot of energy for tomorrow.”
Tsonga lost 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2 to Wawrinka in Friday’s opening singles, never looking at ease on the clay of the Pierre Mauroy stadium, before Monfils hit back by sinking Federer in straight sets.
French tennis federation president Jean Gachassin told the Itele TV channel “Jo has pain in his elbow. I hope he can play tomorrow” but Clement refused to confirm the injury.
“Imagine if there was something, I wouldn’t tell you anyway,” said the captain.
Even fully fit Tsonga would not start as the favourite against Federer as the 17-times grand slam champion seems to have shrugged aside his recent back problems while Wawrinka must also be fancied to defeat Monfils.
“Nothing is broken,” said Clement. “But it is a difficult situation. It’s tough to take. I can’t lie about that. But my players have very strong personalities.
“They know exactly where we stand right now. That’s not where they wanted to be. We haven’t lost yet. Even if the Swiss team have more chances, we still have a chance too.”
(Editing by Ian Chadband)