Dubai: Former world doubles number one Sania Mirza will lead India’s charge as they take on top-ranked China on the opening day of the Asia/Oceania Group I Fed Cup by BNP Paribas at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium from March 3-7.
Six nations, including top-ranked China, will be competing over the next five days in the competition that was initially scheduled to be held in Dongguan, China, but had to be shifted to Dubai due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that while India take on China on centre court, South Korea will face Uzbekistan, while Chinese Taipei will be up against Indonesia on the sidecourts. The six nations will play each other once and the top two finishers in the pool will advance to the play-offs to be held in April, while the fifth and sixth places will be relegated to Group II for 2021.
“We are all set to host this high-profile event here in Dubai. When the ITF asked us if we would be willing to host the competition, we had to accept as Dubai has the profile of being the sporting hub of the world,” Slah Bramly, Assistant Tournament Director and Technical Director at Tennis Emirates told Gulf News.
“Some of the best women players will be in action, so attending these matches can be a huge bonus for fans in Dubai and the UAE. It would be an ideal platform for people to come out and support their countries,” he added.
Joining Sania Mirza on the Indian team will be Ankita Raina (highest ranked at No.180), Riya Bhatia, Rutuja Bhosale and Karman Kaur Thandi and Sowjanya Bavisetti will be the reserve.
China have the strongest squad led by Qiang Wang (No.28), Shuai Zhang (No.31), Saisai Zheng (No.37) and Shuai Peng (No.103), while Chinese Taipei is being led by the experienced doubles world number one, Su-Wei Hsieh, currently ranked No.53 in the singles.
After five days of action, the top two finishers will earn promotion to the play-offs either against Latvia or the Netherlands in mid-April.
Tuesday: China vs India; South Korea vs Uzbekistan; Chinese Taipei vs Indonesia
Wednesday: Chinese Taipei vs South Korea; India vs Uzbekistan; China vs Indonesia
Thursday: China vs Chinese Taipei; India vs South Korea; Indonesia vs Uzbekistan
Friday: China vs Uzbekistan; Chinese Taipei vs India; Indonesia vs South Korea
Saturday: China vs South Korea; Chinese Taipei vs Uzbekistan; India vs Indonesia