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India submit to the fall

Bereft of its top players, India risk losing the Asia-Oceania Group I tie against Korea as the hosts conceded a 0-2 lead on opening day after debutants V M Ranjeet and Vijayant Malik suffered contrasting defeats in their singles matches, on Friday.

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

The onus to bring India back in the tie was on the 22-year-old Malik and he fought his heart out but lacked fitness to meet the challenge as he conceded the second singles against Korean No 1 Suk-Young Jeong.

Malik was trailing 4-6, 5-7, 0-3 against Jeong, ranked 216 places above him at 321st the match, when cramps in his left leg took the fizz out of his challenge.

Leander Paes, the only top player in the hosts line-up, and Purav Raja will now take on Yong-Kyu Lim and Ji Sung Nam in the must-win doubles rubber on Saturday.

India missed its top players badly, especially Somdev Devvarman, as the slow surface required fit players like him who could wear out their rivals.

However, unlike Ranjeet, Malik took the fight into the rival camp, fighting fire with fire. He refused to be dominated by the superior rival and threw everything he had in his arsenal.

His fierce double-handed backhand, stinging serve and a few calculated lobs meant that Korean had to earn points

There was little to separate Malik and Jeong in the opening set but a few unforced errors cost the Indian dear as he dropped his serve in the fourth game to concede a mini lead which stayed with the Korean and he walked away with the lead.

Watched by country’s top woman player Sania Mirza, egged on by legendary team-mate Paes, who was waving the tri-colour to the beats of the Dhol, and cheered on by sparse but vocal crowd, Malik continued to fight for India’s cause.

India will look to get some honour on Saturday.


I PLAYED MY BEST GAME: RANJEET


He managed to hold serve just once in the entire match but an unfazed V M Ranjeet said he played his best game in what turned out to be a nightmarish Davis Cup debut against South Korea’s Min Hyeok Cho on Friday. The 27-year-old Chennai-lad lost 1-6, 0-6, 1-6 in just 83 minutes in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie. Ranjeet found himself on the big stage after stars of Indian tennis revolted and refused to budge even for national duty due to their differences with the AITA. Not much was expected from him and he did not really surprise either but insisted that he did all that he could. ‘I think I have given my best. I was nervous in the beginning but then I thought I settled down and I was playing my game,’ said Ranjeet when asked about the match. ‘He (Cho) was just too good. He had a great game. Everything he tried was coming off well. You could see that he got confident as the match progressed and was playing in the groove,’ he added in lavish praise of his opponent. (PTI)


WHY CAN’T AITA ACCEPT OUR DEMANDS: YUKI

Yuki Bhambri, one of the rebel tennis players, on Friday said if the (AITA) accepts all their demands in writing then they are willing to play for the country. Eleven players, led by Somdev Devvarman, pulled out of the ongoing Davis Cup tie against South Korea. ‘We are ready to play if it (AITA) gives us in writing that it will accept all our demands. The (rebel) players have been in touch with each other and we have not received anything in writing from AITA,’ said Bhambri at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium where he had come to witness the India-Korea tie. ‘It is odd to sit in the stands. This is the first time I am sitting in the stands.’ (IANS)
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