Ankita, Karman seal India's win over Hong Kong in Fed Cup
NEW DELHI: Ankita Raina continued her red-hot form with a fluent win after Karman Kaur Thandi's erratic victory as India blanked Hong Kong 3-0 in the Fed Cup on Friday.
Karman struggled to contain her unforced errors but prevailed 6-3, 6-4 over Eudice Chong to give India a 1-0 lead in the Asia/Oceania Group I matches.
Up against a lower-ranked opponent, placed a humble 761 in the WTA list, Karman snapped a four-match losing streak. The last time she won a Fed Cup match was exactly a year back when she travelled to Astana, Kazakhstan.
Ankita, who has impressed with her inspirational performance against higher-ranked players, then overcame Ling Zhang 6-3, 6-2 to seal India's first win of the 2018 season.
In the inconsequential doubles, Prarthana Thombare and Pranjala Yadlapalli defeated Kwan Yau Ng and Ching Hu Wu 6-2, 6-4.
The last time India won a tie 3-0 was in February 2016, against Kazakhstan in Thailand.
On Saturday, India will play Chinese Taipei, the fourth-placed team in Pool B in the relegation Play-off. The winner will remain in Group I and the loser will be relegated to Group II.
The last time India played Chinese Taipei was in February 2011 in Thailand and lost 1-2. Despite playing some energy-sapping matches in the last two days, Ankita did not let the intensity drop as she kept grinding from the baseline and found some delightful winners.
She did not lose a single point on her serve in the first two games and after
breaking Zhang in the fourth game, Ankita staved off four breakpoints in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead.
The break stayed with her as she closed the set in the ninth.
To Zhang's credit, she did play intelligent tennis, often catching Ankita by surprise with her well-calculated drop shots. Zhang, ranked 331, also returned well. Ankita hit a service return winner to earn two break points and converted the first when Zhang hit a backhand wide to take an early lead in the second set.
She had as many as nine breakpoints to open up a huge lead but a dogged Zhang saved all of them. Ankita created opportunities with several winners at deuce points but every time Zhang came out with deep, angled returns to deny Ankita conversion.
Zhang changed tactics and started feeding loop balls, taking the pace off the ball and letting it bounce high, but Ankita countered the strategy nicely and broke her in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead. Serving for the match, Ankita faced two breakpoints but saved both to seal the tie for India.
Earlier, Karman, who played much better on Thursday against a high-quality opponent, remained erratic throughout. Against a better opponent she would have struggled badly.
Break of serve was order of the match as both players struggled to hold. Karman lost her serve thrice and Chong, who flew from the US to compete for the country, dropped serve five times in the contest.