Even a second-string Serbia proved a mighty opponent as Yuki Bhambri and Somdev Devvarman suffered crushing singles defeats to leave India trailing 0-2 on the opening day of the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie here today.
Serbia, who are here without their top stars, dominated the proceedings to comfortably place themselves at the drivers' seat as they exposed the weakness of Indian players at this level.
India decided to host the tie at high-altitude conditions to take advantage but it was the Serbian players who came out as masters.
Yuki Bhambri was thrashed 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 by Serbian number one Dusan Lajovic in the opening singles, which lasted two hours and four minutes at the KSLTA stadium.
The onus to bring India back into the tie was on Somdev and he was his usual fighting self but could not prevent the Serbians consolidating the lead as he lost the second singles 1-6, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6 after battling for two hours and 23 minutes against Filip Krajinovic, ranked 37 places above him at 107.
Somdev could never execute his baseline defence as Krajinovic paced the match well with quick points. Serving well was key in his success as he opened the court with ease for winners.
Somdev, who likes to pin the opponent on baseline, could not play to his strength as he kept firing short and the Serbian dismissed those without any fuss.
Krajinovic stood out with his forehand, set up by his serve, and well-calculated drop shots. He closed the match in tremendous fashion, firing an ace.
Now, if India are to stay in the hunt, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna must win tomorrow's doubles against Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac.