There could not be a better Women’s Day gift for Indians than waking up with the news of the Indian Fed Cup team qualifying for the Fed Cup World Group Playoffs in the history of the competition. Led by non-playing captain Vishaal Uppal, the young team, under the guidance of legendary Sania Mirza, achieved this absolutely massive feat by winning four out of their five matches in Dubai. They will take on Latvia in an away tie on 17-18th April, 2020 to fight for a place in the 2021 World Group Qualifiers.

In the opening rubber, Rutuja Bhosale, world no 433, suffered an upset defeat against her 16-year-old unranked Indonesian opponent Priska Madelyn Nugroho 3-6, 6-0, 3-6. 

With team India’s back against the wall, it was the top ranked Indian in the world, Ankita Raina (160), who chose the most appropriate time to win her singles rubber to make it 1:1. Raina had fallen short in the previous two singles rubbers in the tournament but on the final day, she won in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 against Aldila Sutjiadi. 

Sania Mirza(Credits – Maurizio)

The only tie India lost was against China on the opening day, beating teams from Uzbekistan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia thereafter. Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale led our singles challenge, while Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina combined to win three out of three deciding doubles rubbers for us on the last three days.

In the deciding doubles rubber, India once again fielded their most successful and experienced pairing of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina. The Indonesians were up to the task as they fought hard in the opening set and stretched it to tie-break before the Indian pair eventually won it 7-6. 

However, the Indians were determined to not have any more drama in the match and breezed to a 6-0 in second set and won the tie 2:1 to book their ticket to the Fed Cup Play-offs. 

Previously in India’s Fed Cup history, a runner up finish at Asia/Oceania Group I in 2006 was India’s best performance. 

Players’ results at the Asia/Oceania Group I tournament: 
Ankita Raina: Singles W/L: 2/3, Doubles W/L: 3/0
Sania Mirza: Singles W/L: -/-, Doubles W/L: 3/0
Rutuja Bhosale: Singles W/L: 3/2, Doubles W/L: -/-
Sowjanya Bavisetti: Singles W/L: -/-, Doubles W/L: 1/1
Riya Bhatia: Singles W/L: -/-, Doubles W/L: 1/1 

Final Standings –

China 5-0 (14-1)
India 4-1 (9-6)
S.Korea 2-3 (7-8)
Indonesia 2-3 (7-8)
Taiwan 2-3 (6-9)
Uzbekistan 0-5 (2-13)

Rutuja Bhosale mobbed by teammates(Photo – Maurizio)
Ankita Raina played a crucial role in both singles and doubles (Photo – Maurizio)

Other images from the ties below (Credits – Maurizio/Krishnakumar/Timmy Thomas)

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