India stumble to defeat against China

India stumble to defeat against China

Ankita's gritty show not enough as visitors notch 2-1 verdict

India stumble to defeat against China

India put up an impressive fight against higher-ranked China, but were left to rue the missed chances in their 1-2 defeat in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group 1 tie at the R K Khanna Stadium on Wednesday.

India's No 1 Ankita Raina kept the hosts in hunt with her gritty a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 120th-ranked Lin Zhu. It was the 253rd ranked Ankita's first victory in four meetings against the Chinese. In contrast, Karman Kaur Thandi, playing the first singles, faltered. Against the 125-ranked Wang, Karman struggled to find her rhythm and perished 2-6, 2-6.

Wang later returned for the doubles and partnering Zhaoxuan Yang, beat the tandem of Ankita and Prarthana Thombare 6-2, 7-6 (1). The Indian pairing, after losing the opening set, had rustled up a galvanized performance in the second. However, they were overwhelmed in the tie-breaker to lose the set and the tie.

"I have seen Ankita and Prarthana play some good doubles matches but the Chinese were very sharp. We lost a few early games," said India captain Ankita Bhambri.

Watched from the sidelines by her mother and maternal uncle, Ankita Raina produced a compact performance against Lin. The 25-year-old displayed excellent court-craft, and dominated the rallies. Under windy conditions, she was judicious in the length of her strokes and varied her pace well to eke errors out of the Chinese.

Lin, who had arrived with the rest of the Chinese team only on Tuesday, was erratic and Ankita broke her straightaway to jump to a 3-1 lead. The Indian also showed composure when facing break points on her serve-twice in the first set and wriggled out with some smart play. With Lin struggling, it was only a matter of time before Ankita served out the opening set.

The Indian seized early momentum in the second set and steamed ahead 3-0 with a double break. And though she dropped her serve immediately, she quickly regrouped to clinch three out of the next four games, and screamed in delight when Lin dumped her backhand into the net.

Karman, on the other hand, made far too many errors against Wang, who stroked fluently off both the flanks. The Chinese, who was fresh from her semifinal appearance in the WTA Taipei Open, controlled the match from start to finish. And though Karman showed flashes of brilliance, she could never quite settle in to put up a fight against the quality of Wang.

India now face a tougher battle against Kazakhstan. Ankita, who was happy with her performance, exuded confidence. Kazakhstan's both singles players are in the top 100 -- Zarina Diyas (ranked 55), and Yuliya Putintseva (81).

"We are playing at home and I need to make the most of it. I have beaten their (Kazakh) top player (Yaroslava Shvedova). It's the Fed Cup and anything can happen," said Ankita.