Ankita goes down fighting to Ostapenko in Billie Jean King Cup playoffs

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko clinched the first match of the tie against India to get Latvia off to a winning start in their Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off.

Ankita Raina

Ankita Raina put up a gritty display but could not get past Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.   -  Latvian Tennis Union/Raimonds Volonts

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko overcame a fiercely fighting Ankita Raina to record a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 victory and put host Latvia 1-0 ahead in the Billie Jean King Cup World Group play-off at the indoor arena in Jurmala on Friday.

Ostapenko, 23, handled the climax like a champion in the third set when Ankita was leading 5-4. The 28-year-old Ankita played her heart out, but Ostapenko stepped it up to close the contest.

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A better start could have helped Ankita fancy her chances, but it was not to be. It was more about rarely playing an opponent of such quality that saw Ankita err with her all-out attacking style of play initially. To her advantage, Ostapenko also struggled with her serve and strokes. However, Ankita was unable to capitalise on the
opportunities.

After shrugging off the excitement of the first set, Ankita was a lot more precise and purposeful with her game in the second set. She dictated terms by jumping to a 2-0 lead and stretching it to 5-2.

 

However, Ostapenko reduced the vulnerability of her serve to fight back into the set. Ankita kept her cool, ran hard on the rallies and placed the ball nicely to engineer errors from Ostapenko and seal the set, pushing the game to a decider.

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Complaining of a hip strain, Ostapenko got the trainer for treatment, and got off to a smart start in the third set.

While the Latvian No.2 became sober, Ankita was unable to match her with accuracy, even though she covered the hard yards. Ankita, ranked 174, put up a gritty show and pushed the Grand Slam champion to her wit’s end, but could not outwit her.

Sevastova beats Thandi

Anastasija Sevastova posted a straightforward 6-4, 6-0 win over Karman Kaur Thandi in the second singles contest.

Sevastova chose to receive serve at the start of her match and broke immediately to lead against Thandi. She maintained her lead but was broken back in the eighth game before breaking again in the following game and holding on to serve out the set.

Sevastova was more a study in consistency than brilliance, while Thandi, who belted the ball and served powerfully, hit some spectacular groundstrokes, but did not possess the ability to maintain the level required to throw Sevastova off balance.

The Latvian saw out the day's play by winning the second set to love in a match lasting an hour and 17 minutes.

- TEAM SPORTSTAR

Results

Latvia leads India 2-0 (Jelena Ostapenko bt Ankita Raina
6-2, 5-7, 7-5, Anastasija Sevastova bt Karman Kaur Thandi 6-4, 6-0).