There was more sound than substance to India’s challenge, as Korea cruised to a 4-1 victory, winning both the reverse singles on the final day of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group-I tie at the R.K. Khanna Stadium here on Sunday.

The holiday crowd, with enhanced expectations after enjoying the doubles triumph on Saturday, was out in strength to provide a vibrant atmosphere, but V.M. Ranjeet and Vijayant Malik were unable to lift their game beyond a point.

On a bright afternoon, there was no surprising turn in the script, as the Korean No.1 Jeong Suk-Young, ranked 321, sealed the tie with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ranjeet. Nam Ji Sung duly won the ‘dead rubber’ second reverse singles match beating Vijayant Malik 6-2, 6-4.

It was to the credit of the spectators that they cheered till the last game, even though the writing was on the wall very early in the day.

While Korea plays Japan in the next round for a berth in the World Group play-off, India will host Indonesia in April in the first of the play-off matches to avoid relegation to Group-II.

It must be conceded that it was a much better performance from the former national champion Ranjeet, after the 27-year-old Chennai lad had managed to win merely two games in the opening rubber on Friday.

Ranjeet was able to put the backhand slice to good effect and even charged the net for successful volleys. But, it was clear that he would not be able to hold off the Korean for too long.

As Purav Raja — who had clinched the doubles rubber with Leander Paes on Saturday — kept suggesting from the sidelines to Ranjeet that he could make a match of it by using his intelligence, there were limitations to how much strategy could have helped.

After suffering from cramps and conceding the second rubber, Malik looked alright physically in the second match. But, the 19-year-old Nam Ji Sung, who had played doubles on Saturday, was on song. His solid game seemed to exasperate the 22-year-old Chandigarh lad.

Captain S.P. Misra had no qualms about conceding that the Korean team was better, even as the Koreans were celebrating the triumph in the adjacent swimming pool.

Misra had more than a word of praise for the “fantastic crowd”, and emphasised that the Indian lads had tried their best to give the faithful spectators something to cheer about.

The results: Korea 4 bt India 1 (V.M. Ranjeet lost to Jeong Suk Young 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; Vijayant Malik lost to Nam Ji Sung 6-2, 6-4).

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