Fed Cup: Tough opener for India against full-strength China

India will face China in the opening match of the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania women’s tournament in Dubai from Tuesday. The players haven't returned to China since the Australian Open due to coronavirus outbreak.

The Indian Fed Cup team in Dubai. (From left) Riya Bhatia, Rutuja Bhosale, Sowjanya Bavisetti, Ankita Raina, Sania Mirza, coach Ankita Bhambri, physio Anand Dubey and captain Vishaal Uppal.   -  Special Arrangement

India will open against the toughest team in the field, China, in the opening match of the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania women’s tennis tournament scheduled to be played in Dubai from Tuesday.

The Chinese players have been competing in the circuit and have not returned home after the Australian Open because of the coronavirus outbreak. So India will be facing a full-strength Chinese team which has Wang Qiang, Shuai Zhang, Zheng Saisai, Shuai Peng and YiFan Xu.

The captain of the Indian team, Vishaal Uppal, said that it was a good thing that India would be playing the best team straightaway. “China is the toughest team and playing it first could actually be a good thing for us.”

“The best time to catch a top ranked team is in the first round. Having said that, we have to try and beat every team in this competition,” he said.

With the top two from the six teams making it to the next stage, India may have to win against tough teams to make progress.

Sania Mirza

Six-time Grand Slam champion Sania Mirza will figure in the doubles team for India.   -  Getty Images

 

Ankita Raina will be the obvious No.1 player in the Indian team, and there should perhaps be no doubt that the former world No.1 and six-time Grand Slam champion Sania Mirza would figure in the doubles team. Sania and the rest of the team did have a good training session on Sunday.

The captain may have to take a crucial decision on the second singles player from among Rutuja Bhosale, Riya Bhatia and Sowjanya Bavisetti.

Karman Kaur Thandi pulled out owing to a stress fracture, paving the way for national champion Sowjanya, who was originally a reserve.

“Our team nominations will not be revealed till one hour before the tie. We will have a team meeting tonight and then decide accordingly,” clarified Vishaal.

India is scheduled to play Uzbekistan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia in that order after the match against China.

The former Asian Games gold medallist, the 28th ranked Wang Qiang, who was ranked a career-best 12, had reached the fourth round of the Australian Open this year and had beaten Serena Williams in the third round.

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