The Indian Fed cup team created history by progressing to the playoffs for the first time ever with Ankita Raina leading the side to a 2-1 win over Indonesia, in Dubai.
Ankita on Saturday (March 7) night pulled off a crucial singles win against talented Aldila Sutjiadi to lock the tie 1-1 after Rutuja Bhosale suffered a crushing defeat against an unranked Priska Madelyn Nugroho.
Up against the 16-year-old Indonesian, who is ranked 15th on the ITF junior circuit, Rutuja lost 3-6 6-0 3-6 in one hour and 43 minutes in the opening singles. Ankita, who lost her previous two singles, demolished the challenge of Sutjiadi 6-3 6-3 in the second rubber.
She then combined with seasoned Sania Mirza to beat Sutziyadi and Nugroho 7-6(4) 6-0 to seal India’s place in the playoffs where they will take on either Latvia or the Netherlands in April.
They overcame a sluggish start as they were trailing 1-4 but regrouped to dominate the decisive set.
India finished second in the six-team Group with four wins in a row after losing the opening tie to China, who remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Since earning their place back in Asia/Oceania Group I in 2016, India has remained in the regional group. With the rise of Ankita, things began to improve.
Rutuja also played a key role as she provided winning starts in a few ties, sharing the burden with Ankita.
Sania’s return to Fed Cup after four years also helped as her inspirational presence and guidance helped the side immensely.
India’s non-playing captain Vishal Uppal is delighted with the result.
“Its a historic moment and to be part of it feels surreal. I am proud of each and every member of our team — the players, physio, coach, manager. We all came together and worked towards a common goal,” Uppal told PTI.
“The key was to do the fundamentals well and keep it simple on the court. As a team, everyone stepped up one day or the other which is very important. I hope this win will give a big boost to women’s tennis in India,” he added.