A vastly improved Ranjeet went down fighting 4-6, 4-6, 2-6 in the must-win first match of the day to a higher ranked Suk-Young Jeong as South Korea took an unassailable 3-1 lead against India on the hardcourts of the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium here.
In the fifth dead rubber, Vijayant, who conceded the singles Friday against Jeong due to cramps, lost 2-6, 4-6 against Ji Sung Nam as South Korea sailed into the second round where they will face Japan.
India will now play the first round play-off, slated for April 5-7, against Indonesia, who were whitewashed by Japan.
For India, it was a disappointing loss as they had to field a depleted side after top players, led by Somdev Devvarman, made themselves unavailable for the tie over a charter of demands.
Trailing 1-2, both Ranjeet and Vijayant had a mountain to climb to avoid India’s loss. The sizeable crowd that had turned out here expecting a miracle, saw an inspired Ranjeet going down fighting.
Having suffered a humiliating defeat in the first singles on Friday, Ranjeet, ranked 511, punched above his weight against the 321-ranked Jeong but still lost in an encounter that lasted two hours and 23 minutes.
Inspired by Leander Paes and Purav Raja’s doubles win on Saturday, Ranjeet was charged right from the start. But lack of maturity and experience at the top level made the difference.