Doha: India suffered a major setback with the star players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi tamely losing against their Chinese Taipei opponents as India bowed out 1-2 in the men's tennis team championships of the XVth Asian Games in Doha on Monday.
The star-studded Indian team, expected to bag a couple of medals from the event, was no match to a spirited Chinese Taipei at the Al Khalifa sports complex.
Chinese Taipei's victory was all the more creditable as they fielded their two singles players - Yeu Tzuoo Wang and Yen Hsun Lu - for the deciding doubles encounter.
NOTHING TO SHOW: Paes-Bhupathi were expected to win but lost to an unfancied opponent.
Wang set the ball rolling for Taipei by accounting for Karan Rastogi 6-1, 6-3 in the first singles, which lasted 70 minutes.
The 26-year-old Rastogi was a bundle of nerves as he committed a number of unforced errors to virtually hand the match on a platter to his opponent.
Playing under pressure, Davis Cupper Rohan Bopanna restored parity for the Indians with a hard-fought 4-6, 7-6 6-4 victory over Lu who started off well but could not maintain the tempo right through the contest, which lasted for about 138 minutes.
Bopanna, the lone winner in the Indian team, said it was nice to win.
"Winning is always good. I was great to comeback. I am happy with my comeback," he said.
With the score tied 1-1, it was left to the experienced doubles duo of Paes and Bhupathi to bail India out of trouble but the multi-grand slam winning pair played well below par, allowing Chinese Taipei to cruise into the quarter finals.
The Paes and Bhupathi showed no signs of the chemistry which had helped them win several grand slam titles, as the Chinese Taipei pair, distinctly tired after their gruelling singles matches, carved out a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 victory.
It was a rather dismal opening day for the Indians who had managed to secure one gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the last edition of the Games in Busan.
Paes and Bhupathi failed to hold serve in the second and fourth game, which allowed the Chinese Taipei pair to race to a 4-0 lead.
The Indians managed to break their rivals in the seventh game but again failed to hold serve in the 18th game to lose the first set.
In the second set, the Indians played slightly better but a few unforced errors in criticial stages of the match ensure that the Chinese Taipei pair wriggled out and eventually win the contest.
Paes and Bhupathi said Indian team was lacking in its performance while Chinese Taipei players really put up a good show.
"We did not play well. But they played well we have to give them credit."