The trio of Rutuja Bhosale, Ankita Raina and Saina Mirza toiled hard for 5 days to make this happen for India. In a group of China, Uzbekistan, South Korea, India, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia, India needed to finish in top 2 to qualify for the Fed Cup playoffs.
In the very first tie, India faced the mighty Chinese team. WR: 433, Rutuja Bhosale put up a decent fight before going down against WR: 35, Shuai Zhang. In the next rubber, WR: 160, Ankita Raina put WR: 29, Qiang Yang under tremendous pressure before going down 6-1 2-6 4-6. Notably, Qiang had beaten Serena Willams in Australian Open this year. India lost the tie 2-0.
That made the rest 4 ties must win 4 India in order to qualify for the Fed Cup playoffs. And under that pressure do or die situation, Indian girls started blossoming.
In the next tie against Uzbekistan, Rutuja Bhosale gave India a flying start when she conquered the veteran Akgul Ammanmuradova, coming from a set down.
In the next rubber, Ankita scored a straight-sets win over Sharipova to seal the tie 2-0 in favour of India. This was Ankita’s only 2 win in 6 meetings against Sharipova.
Next up was South Korea for India. Rutuja again gave India a solid start as she came out top against higher-ranked Su Jeong-Jang in straight sets 7-5 6-4. When Indian contingent was expecting Ankita to seal the tie in India’s favour as she was facing lower-ranked Na-Lae Han, unexpectedly Ankita lost the rubber 4-6 0-6. It all came down to the doubles rubber where India’s possible Olympic pairing of Ankita Raina- Sania Mirza took the stage together for the first time in this fed cup campaign and the pair had an easy route to the victory as they humbled the South Korean pair in straight sets 6-4 6-4 to seal the tie 2-1 in India’s favour.
India’s next opponent was Chinese Taipei. Another crucial win for Rutuja Bhosale over Taipei’s 15 years old rising star Ya Yi yang in 3 sets, got India on the board. And again unexpectedly Ankita Raina falters in the second rubber which made it 1-1. Once again it was up to the pair of Mirza-Raina to see India home and after a marathon 2 hours, 26 minutes match the duo came out on top 6-4 4-6 6-4 against the Taipei pair. India secured the tie 2-1.
India played their final tie against Indonesia. Rutuja Bhosale despite bagelling her opponent in the second set, lost the rubber in 3 sets. Made Ankita’s job a bit tougher as she had to win her singles match and later on the doubles match with Mirza to see India home. And boy she delivered in beautiful fashion as she first won her singles rubber in straight sets before winning the doubles tie 7-6 6-0 with Mirza to not only seal the tie 2-1 in favour of India but also Promoting Indian women’s team to the playoffs of the Fed Cup for the very first time. A great week for Indian women’s tennis.
Rutuja played 5 singles matches, won 3; lost 2.
Ankita played 5 singles matches, won 2; lost 3.
Ankita Raina-Sania Mirza duo played 3 doubles matches and won all 3.
India now will play an away tie against either Latavia or Netherlands to qualify for the qualifying rounds of Fed cup finals 2021. All the best, girls.