Despite Ankita Raina's surprise win over Nao Hibino, India went down 1-2 to Japan in the Pool A (Group I) Fed Cup tie in Thailand. India had earlier suffered a 3-0 defeat against Thailand in their opening game yesterday, and will fail to make it to the next round of the World Group II play-offs.
India got off to a poor start as 21-year-old Prarthana Thombare lost to Japan's Eri Hozumi in straight sets 2-6, 1-6 in a match which lasted just over an hour. However, Ankita Raina pulled an upset 6-3, 6-1 win over a much higher-ranked Nao Hibino to restore parity in the tie at 1-1. Ankita managed five break of serves in this game, and her consistent first serve proved difficult for Nao to break.
It all came down to the final doubles game between Shuko Aoyama/ Eri Hozumi and Sania Mirza/ Prarthana Thombare. The India pair made a sloppy start, and conceded two early breaks, as the Japanese pair raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set. However, Mirza and Thombare found their rhythm soon, and fought back to win five games in a row and made in 5-4. Aoyama and Hozumi had the last laugh though, as they broke their opponent at a crucial juncture and won the marathon first set 7-5, which lasted 53 minutes and had seven service breaks.
The second set was pretty one-sided though, with the Japanese duo racing to a 4-1 lead, before closing the set at 6-3. India will now face Uzbekistan, who still have a slim chance of qualifying, in their next game.