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Fed Cup 2020: Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina pull off thrilling win in deciding doubles tie to help India beat Chinese Taipei 2-1

  • India prevail 2-1 over Chinese Taipei in the Fed Cup Asia Oceania Group stage tie, and are one win away from a spot in the playoffs.
Kartik Iyer
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
News
Modified 07 Mar 2020, 08:41 IST

Sania Mirza won the tie-deciding doubles encounter while partnering with Ankita Raina
Sania Mirza won the tie-deciding doubles encounter while partnering with Ankita Raina

What's the story?

India registered a 2-1 victory against Chinese Taipei in their fourth tie of the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania women's tennis tournament currently being held in Dubai. This was India's third consecutive victory at the tournament.

In case you didn't know

The Fed Cup, the premier team competition in women's tennis, is the female equivalent of the Davis Cup and is being held in a new format from this year, with the finals scheduled to take place in Budapest (Hungary) from 14th to 19th April 2020.

France, Australia, USA, Czech Republic, Russia, Belarus, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia and Switzerland are the twelve teams that would be contesting the finals this year.

India is participating in the Asia/Oceania Group I event being held in Dubai, which is part of the group events held across three regions - Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa. The ties are being played on a round robin basis. The top 2 teams in the event will be promoted to the next stage while the bottom 2 teams will be relegated.

This was India's 4th tie of the campaign. In the previous encounters, India had gone down 0-3 against China but bounced back to beat Uzbekistan and South Korea 3-0 and 2-1 respectively.

Heart of the matter

The Indian women's tennis team registered their third consecutive win at the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I women's tennis tournament being held in Dubai by registering a thrilling 2-1 victory against Chinese Taipei.

In the first singles match, World No.433 Rutuja Bhosale clinched a nail-biting 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) victory against Ya Yi Yang of Chinese Taipei to give India a 1-0 lead in the tie.

The match started with both players holding their serves till Rutuja broke her opponent in the 5th game of the first set. She broke Yang again in the 7th game to take a 5-2 lead but was broken back while serving for the set. Not to be denied, Rutuja closed out the set 6-3 by breaking Yang in the 9th game.

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The Indian did not have a good start to the 2nd set as she was broken in the very first game. Both players continued to hold their serves after that until Rutuja was broken in the 9th game while serving to stay in the set to concede the 2nd set 3-6.

The 3rd set was a cliff-hanger with Yang taking an early 3-0 lead by breaking Rutuja in the 2nd game. The Indian restored parity at 4-4 after breaking her opponent in the 7th game. The Indian was under pressure while serving to stay in the match in the 10th game and had to dig deep to hold serve after saving 3 match points.

With both players holding serve in the 11th and 12th games, the final set went to a tie-break. The tie-break was a neck and neck affair with Rutuja getting her 1st match point at 6-5. Although she could not convert that, she clinched the match on her 2nd match point after closing the tie-break 8-6 and with it the match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6).

World No. 160 Ankita Raina, India's highest-ranked singles player, took to the court in the second singles but was unable to close out the tie as she lost 6-3, 2-6, 3-6 to En Shuo Liang of Chinese Taipei.

Ankita started well by breaking her opponent's serve in the 2nd game of the first set. She broke Liang's serve again in the 6th game. Although she was broken in the 7th game, Ankita closed out the set 6-3 after holding serve in the 9th game.

Ankita was broken in the 4th game of the 2nd set as her Chinese Taipei opponent seized the initiative. She was broken again in the 8th game to lose the set 2-6.

Liang continued with the momentum at the start of the 3rd set, breaking Ankita in the 2nd game. This sole break of serve was enough for Liang to close out the set 6-3 and with it draw level in the tie at 1-1.

Just like in the previous tie against South Korea, the onus was now on the Indian doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita to see India through. The duo did not disappoint, clinching a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win against Liang and Latisha Chang to close out the tie 2-1 in India's favour.

The Indian pair started well by breaking their opponents twice to take an early 3-0 lead. Although they were broken back in the 4th game, they held their serves for the remainder of the set to clinch it 6-4.

The second set was a thrilling affair with both pairs losing their serves on multiple occasions. Although the first 4 games went with serve, the drama started with Sania-Ankita breaking their opponents in the 5th game. This was followed by three consecutive breaks of serve before the Chinese Taipei pair finally held their serve to take a 5-4 lead. The Indians were broken again while serving to stay in the set, thereby losing the set 4-6.

The third and final set was no different, with both pairs losing their serves multiple times. While Sania and Ankita broke their opponents in the 3rd, 5th and 9th games, they themselves lost their serves in the 6th and 8th games. This one extra break of serve was enough for them to close out the match and tie by holding serve in the 10th game.

What's next?

India will be facing Indonesia in their last tie on Friday. With two teams set to be promoted from this group to the playoffs, a win in this tie would almost certainly guarantee the Indian team a spot in the playoffs.

Published 07 Mar 2020, 08:41 IST
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