Fed Cup: Kazakhstan proves too strong for India

Ankita Raina tried to revive the fortunes but host Kazakhstan asserted its class by registering a 3-0 victory over India.

Ankita Raina in action during India's Fed Cup match against Kazakhstan.   -  Special Arrangement

Ankita Raina tried to revive India’s fortunes and make a fight of it against world No. 43 Yulia Putintseva, but host Kazakhstan asserted its class by registering a 3-0 victory over India in the last league match of the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group-1 event in Astana on Friday.

The hard-fought win against Thailand on Thursday, which looked like having taken some steam out of the Indian team.

In contrast, Kazakhstan, after a day’s rest was fresh to deal with a tricky team like India, which had run it close in the last edition, when Ankita beat Yulia Putintseva in three sets.

This time around, the 24-year-old Yulia, who has twice made the quarterfinals of French Open including last year, won 6-1, 7-6(4) to seal victory for Kazakhstan, after the 97th ranked Zarina Diyas had beaten Karman Thandi 6-3, 6-2.

Ankita did well to bounce back from 3-5, and 0-30 on her serve in the second set to make a fight of it, but at 4-4 in the tie-break, the Kazakh stepped it up.

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"Ankita tried her hardest. Yulia played really solid and didn’t give any free points. In the tie-breaker, she made only one error," recalled the captain of the Indian team Vishaal Uppal.

Even though Karman looked to have lost her match rather tamely to Zarina by the same score like she did last year in Delhi, Vishaal praised the tall and wiry girl for her better fare.

"Karman played a much better match today, and hopefully she will learn and grow," said the captain.

Once the tie was lost with the defeat of Ankita in the second rubber, the captain changed the doubles team to give Riya Bhatia and Prarthana Thombare a taste of competition.

"I rested Karman and Ankita in the doubles, as they need time to recover for tomorrow. We want to beat Korea. It will be a tough tie and we need to be physically ready for it," said Vishaal.

India will play Korea for the third place. Thailand will play Indonesia in the relegation play-off between the two third placed teams in the two groups. Pacific Oceania has been relegated as it finished fourth in the other group.

Favourite China takes on Kazakhstan to gain the sole berth on offer for the World Group-2 play-off from the group.

The results (league): Kazakhstan bt India 3-0 (Zarina Diyas bt Karman Thandi 6-3, 6-2; Yulia Putintseva bt Ankita Raina 6-1, 7-6(4); Anna Danilina &  Galina Voskoboeva bt Riya Bhatia & Prarthana Thombare 6-1, 6-1).