Fed Cup: India advanced to the playoffs after a 2-1 win over Indonesia. © Twitter
The Indian Fed cup team created history by progressing to the play-offs for the first time ever with Ankita Raina leading the side to a 2-1 win over Indonesia in Dubai. Ankita Raina on Saturday night pulled off a crucial singles win against talented Aldila Sutjiadi to lock the tie 1-1 after Rutuja Bhosale suffered a crushing defeat to 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 the seasoned Sania Mirza to beat Sutziyadi and Nugroho 7-6(4), 6-0 to seal India’s place in the play-offs 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. 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 was delighted with the result.
“It’s 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 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.”