Fed Cup: India bows to China in doubles

Ankita Raina’s heroics could not help India go past China in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group women’s tennis tournament.

Ankita Raina in action on Wednesday.   -  PTI

Ankita Raina’s heroics, as she beat her nemesis Lin Zhu, could not help India go past China in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group women’s tennis tournament at the RK Khanna Stadium here on Wednesday.

It was a superb performance by Ankita as she was agile on court and stroked with intensity to outplay Lin Zhu 6-2, 6-3 in the second rubber, after the 19-year-old Karman Kaur Thandi had succumbed possibly to bouts of nerves in slithering to a 2-6, 2-6 defeat to Yafan Wang in the first match.

With doubles specialist Prarthana Thombare joining Ankita for the decisive third rubber, there was hope of India getting past China. The hopes were dashed by the powerful combination of Yafan Wang and Zhaoxuan Yang who pulled through a tricky phase in the second set to record a 6-2, 7-6(1) victory.

After the Union Sports Minister Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore had inaugurated the event, a large gathering of school children kept the players on their toes with their noisy presence. There was no peppy patriotic songs to cheer up Karman who played well in patches, but was up against a high quality player who settled into a nice rhythm.

In fact, it was the brilliance of the 23-year-old Yafan Wang both in her singles and the doubles later in the afternoon, that tilted the tie in favour of China. The 125th ranked Yafan Wang, who was ranked a career-best 49 in doubles last year, had a delightful all-round game that saw her dictate the flow of the matches both from the back court and at the net.

There was some solace for the host as the 25-year-old Ankita was flawless and quite intense. She twice recovered from being double breakpoints down to clinch the first set, and took a 4-1 lead in the second set despite dropping serve in the fourth game, to guide the rubber in India’s favour.

Having lost three times to the 120th ranked Lin Zhu in three sets each, including the Fed Cup last year, it was a commendable execution from the 253rd ranked Ankita.

India will next play Kazakhstan which outplayed Hong Kong for the loss of nine games in all.

Hong Kong, coached by former India Davis Cupper Karan Rastogi, was perhaps preserving itself for the ties ahead.

In the other group, Japan prevailed over Thailand 3-0, while Korea meted out a similar treatment to Chinese Taipei.

The results:


Pool-A:

China bt India 2-1 (Yafan Wang bt Karman Kaur Thandi 6-2, 6-2; Lin Zhu lost to Ankita Raina 2-6, 3-6; Yafan Wang & Zhaoxuan Yang bt Ankita
Raina & Prarthana Thombare 6-2, 7-6(1)). Kazakhstan bt Hong Kong 3-0 (Zarina Diyas bt Ho Ching Wu 6-3, 6-1; Yulia Putintseva bt Kwon You Ng 6-1, 6-0; Zarina Diyas & Yulia Putintseva bt Eudice Wong Chong & Ling Zhang 6-1, 6-3).

Pool-B:

Japan bt Thailand 3-0 (Kurumi Nara bt Peangtarn Plipuech 6-0, 6-2; Nao Hibino bt Luksika Kumkhum 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-0; Miyu Kato & Makoto Ninomiya bt NIcha Lertpitaksinchai & Peangtarn Plipuech 6-3, 6-3). Korea bt Chinese Taipei 3-0 (Jeong Sunam bt Ya-Hsuan Lee 6-3, 6-3; Han
Na-Lae bt Chieh-Yu Hsu 6-2, 6-3; Kim Na Ri & Lee So-Ra bt Ching Wen Hsu & Pei-Chi Lee 6-2, 6-3).

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