Dubai: China, South Korea and Indonesia picked up their first wins on the opening day of the Asia/Oceania Group I Fed Cup by BNP Paribas being held at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, on Tuesday.
China encountered some stiff resistance from India before winning 3-0, while South Korea brushed aside Uzbekistan by the same scoreline. However, the biggest upset of the opening day came when a much lower-ranked Indonesia secured a well-fought 2-1 win over Chinese Taipei.
China was off to a great start with World No.31 easing her way to an emphatic 6-4, 6-2 win over 23-year-old Rutuja Bhosale in 76 minutes. Then came the match of the day as Ankita Raina punched way above her weight to match World No.28 and 2019 quarter-finalist Qiang Wang.
The Indian was at her fiery best winning the first set 6-2 with the breaks coming in the fourth and sixth games. In the second set, Raina got an early break and that’s when her problems started as she vomited on court while on serve. The match was interrupted a second time two games later, much to the ire of the Chinese. But Wang went on to take the second set 6-2 and force a deciding third.
Now India’s highest-ranked singles player at No.177, Raina fought her way out on several occasions but failed to dominate her more experienced opponent who had sent packing former world number one Serena Williams in their third round of the 2020 Australian Open.
“I know it looked as though there was a lot of drama in that match. It was a genuine medical thing where I was seen vomiting on court by everyone. Despite being ill, I just tried to focus on every point and give it everything as I really had nothing to lose,” Raina said later.
“The conditions were tough for us both, but I had my fair share of chances that I should have taken. However, I can feel pleased that I had given off my very best for my country against all odds,” the 27-year-old added.
Causing the biggest upset of the day was Indonesia with a gutsy 2-1 win over Chinese Taipei. Priska Madelyn Nugroho gave Indonesia a sound start with a 6-4, 6-7 (10), 6-0 win over Ya Yi Yang before teenager Aldila Sutjiadi fought tooth and nail for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over the experienced En Shuo Liang to settle full points. With world doubles number one Su-Wei Hsieh preferring to sit out for the opening day, it was left up to Yung-Jan Chan and Ya-Yi Yang to restore some pride for Chinese Taipei with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Nugroho and Sutjiadi in an hour and 24 minutes.
The six nations will continue playing over the next four days with the top two finishers advancing to the play-offs to be held in April, while the fifth and sixth places will be relegated to Group II for 2021.
China bt India 3-0: Shuai Zhang bt Rutuja Bhosale 6-4, 6-2; Qiang Wang bt Ankita Raina 1-6, 6-2, 6-4; Shuai Peng/Yifan Xu bt Sowjanya Bavisetti/Riya Bhatia 6-0, 6-1.
South Korea bt Uzbekistan 3-0: Su Jeong Jang bt Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-4; Na-Lae Han bt Sabina Sharipova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; Ji Hi Choi/Na Re Kim bt Nigina Abduraimova/Akgul Amanmuradova 6-1, 6-3.
Indonesia bt Chinese Taipei 2-1: Priska Madelyn Nugroho bt Ya Yi Yang 6-4, 6-7 (10), 6-0; Aldila Sutjiadi bt En Shuo Liang 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; Priska Madelyn Nugroho/Aldila Sutjiadi lost to Yung-Jan Chan/Ya-Yi Yang 5-7, 5-7.