Davis Cup: Ranjeet to start India's campaign

New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan will start India's Davis Cup campaign against unranked Min-Hyeok Cho of South Korea while No.2 Vijayant Malik will take on Korea No.1 Suk-Young Jeong in the second singles on the first day of the Group 1 Asia/Oceania tie at the RK Khanna Tennis stadium here Friday.

Korea, however, surprisingly decided not to field their No.2 Yong-Kyu Lim for the singles on the opening day. Lim and Ji Sung Nam will take on Leander Paes and Purav Raja in Saturday's doubles encounter.

On Sunday, Ranjeet will play Jeong while Malik will take on Cho in the reverse singles.

India's non-playing captain S.P. Misra said he was happy with the draw.

"It's a positive draw. I always wanted our number one player (Ranjeet) to play first. If he can pull off something, it becomes easy for our second player," said Mishra.

Paes said gelling with Raja will be a challenge since they are playing together for the first time.

"Their doubles players look good. It really looks interesting for us. Purav is a fabulous player with a lot of skill and game. We need to gel well, it's about combination and communication especially when the surface is slow and bouncing," Paes said.

The multiple Grand Slam champion said that in the doubles all the players have to bring out their top game.

"All four players will have to bring their game together on the court. Doubles is about finding holes in the match," said Paes.

Ranjeet said he always wanted to play the opening match.

"I am glad that I am playing the first match. Honestly, I wanted to play the first match. I was expecting to play against Lim but I am happy that I will not be playing him. It's not that I underestimate the other player, just good that I will be playing the other guy. I will try to get the first point," said Ranjeet.

Both India and Korea have met eight times in the past with Korea leading their head-to-head 5-3. But the Koreans last tasted victory on Indian soil way back in 1989.

The two teams last met in 2006 when former World No.36 Hyung-Taik Lee-led the Koreans to a great win. But since then, the Koreans have fallen behind.

The Koreans will have to be on top of their game if they have to beat a second-string Indian team. A player's revolt led by Somdev Devvarman forced the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to field a depleted side for the tie. The inexperienced Indian team, however, has a point prove.

Both teams find themselves in Zone Group I in 2013 after fluctuating campaigns in 2012.

The Koreans won their first round tie against Chinese Taipei but in the next round they were whitewashed by Australia.

The Indians were also defeated in the first round by Uzbekistan in a close encounter in 2012 but avoided demotion from Group 1 with a fantastic win against New Zealand in a first round relegation play-off.

Davis Cup draw:

Friday:

R1: Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND) vs. Min Hyeok Cho (KOR)

R2: Vijayant Malik (IND) vs. Suk-Young Jeong (KOR)

Saturday:

R3: Leander Paes/Purav Raja (IND) vs. Yong-Kyu Lim/Ji Sung Nam (KOR)

Sunday:

R4: Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND) vs. Suk-Young Jeong (KOR)

R5: Vijayant Malik (IND) vs. Min Hyeok Cho (KOR)

Matches

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