Gloomy start for India, V M Ranjeet goes down tamely

V M Ranjeet

India badly missed its top players as rookie V M Ranjeet suffered a straight-set thrashing from Min Hyoek Cho, allowing Korea to grab a 1-0 lead in the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie, here today.

It was a forgettable India debut for the 27-year-old Chennai lad as he was trounced 1-6 0-6 1-6 in one hour and 23 minutes in the first singles of the first-round tie at the R K Khanna Tennis stadium.

Going by the slow nature of the surface, it was clear from the first game itself that hanging in and putting more balls inside the lines was all that mattered.

To his credit, Ranjeet did run hard, retrieved a good number of balls but Cho hardly missed a shot or point.

Korean captain Yong-II Yoon's decision to field 26-year-old Cho, who served his country's Army for two years before resuming his career, proved absolutely correct as he gave his side a flying start in the absence of home team's star players.

Somdev Devvarman, who has the amazing ability of staying in and wearing out his opponents, was the ideal player on this surface and his absence was felt.

Neither the 'Chak De India' song, played in between the games, nor the Dhol beats could lift Ranjeet's game as the Indian was down 0-3 in the opening set.

The first set was, in fact, over in 30 minutes and the Indian did not hold his serve even once. He was broken at love in the third and fifth games. Ranjeet did try to switch to plan B, playing aggressively, approaching the net but nothing worked as Cho went past him with the winners on either side of the court.

The only time Cho faltered was in the fourth game when Ranjeet got on the board.

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