A pumped-up Ankita Raina produced a courageous performance under pressure to shock world number 120, Lin Zhu in straight sets of 6-3, 6-2 but that wasn’t enough as India lost 1-2 to neighbours China in the Fed Cup. India are set to take on Kazakhstan in the next match - a must-win tie on Thursday.
With the Indian contingent missing out on the experience and expertise of veteran Sania Mirza due to her knee injury, the young quartet of Ankita Raina, Karman Kaun Thandi, Pranjala Yadlapalli, and Prarthana Thombare were set to take centre stage at the Fed Cup. Rutuja Bhosle and Zeel Desai were announced as reserves for the ongoing tournament.
The team had hopes high going into the tournament as they were looking to prove a point and gain as much experience as they could. However, their first match ended in disappointment as they lost to China 1-2. Karman Kaur Thandi lost the first match 2-6 2-6 to world number 125 Yafan Wang after she looked sloppy on the court and lacked coordination that ultimately cost her the match. Karman, coached by Aditya Sachdeva, lacked variety and tactics to tackle her wily opponent, who has played Grand Slam qualifiers.
But in a dramatic turn of events, Ankita Raina showed tremendous passion and energy, as the 253rd- ranked player came out guns blazing and caught Lin Zhu of China by surprise and beat her higher-ranked rival 6-3 6-2 on the centre court at the R K Khanna Tennis stadium. Lin did pile on some pressure on the young Indian but Ankita kept the lead with her and closed out the final set in her favour in the ninth game of the match.
It was Ankita’s first win over Lin in her fourth attempt as she succumbed to defeat twice earlier on tour and once in the Fed Cup.