New Delhi: It was a disappointing start to India's Davis Cup campaign as Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan was hammered in the first singles while Vijayant Malik, after putting up a valiant fight, conceded the second due to severe cramps in his left leg as South Korea took a 2-0 lead in the Group I Asia/Oceania first round tie here Friday.
Ranjeet, who is India's No.1 player for the tie, was thrashed 1-6, 0-6, 1-6 by the unranked Min-Hyeok Cho at the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium.
After a humiliating loss in the first singles, Vijayant gave the home crowd something to cheer with his spirited performance against Suk-Young Jeong. But in the third set, with the score at 4-6, 5-7, 0-2, he felt excruciating pain in his left leg and collapsed on the court and conceded the match.
It was a sad end to Vijayant's heroics that raised some hopes for the hosts after an embarrassing loss in the first singles.
Vijayant attacked from the outset and was on top of his game right from the start. He led the first set 2-1 but some unforced errors helped the South Korean claw back into the game to make it 4-2. Vijayant, however, came back strongly in the next two games and pocketed the fourth game with a brilliant ace (4-4).
But the Korean made the best use of his experience and went for the kill whenever he found the opportunity while Vijayant failed to finish off points.
Earlier in the day, the unranked Cho dominated from the baseline and toyed with Ranjeet.
It was an erratic performance by the inexperienced Ranjeet, who was included in the side after several top players revolted against the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and made themselves unavailable for national duty.
Ranjeet gifted away easy points. Though he hit a few aces and managed to hold on to rallies twice, he was poor at net play.
Cho, who is basically a doubles player, made the best use of his experience in thrashing the 27-year-old India.
The Korean said his ploy was to make Ranjeet work for the points.
"I was aware of the fact that he was an inexperienced player. So the ploy was to make him work hard for the points," he said.
India are fielding an inexperienced team in the Davis Cup following a rebellion by senior players, led by Somdev Devvarman. Leander Paes is the only old face in the team.
Paes will be teaming up with another rookie Purav Raja for the doubles.