India lose 1-2 to China in Fed Cup
Nonthaburi: Sania Mirza`s defeat against lower-ranked Jing-Jing Lu cost India dear as they began their Asia/Oceania Group I campaign in the Fed Cup with a 1-2 defeat against China in Pool A.
China were without Australian Open runner-up Li Na but India could not take advantage of her absence from the Chinese line up to make a good start in this year`s competition after being promoted to Group I.
All the responsibility to bring India back in on Wednesday`s tie was on Sania as young Poojashree Venkatesha lost the first singles match 3-6 2-6 to Hao Chen Tang.
However, 135-ranked Sania lost 1-6, 6-0, 4-6 to 191-ranked Jing-Jing Lu in the second singles, ending Indian hopes, at the National Tennis Centre here.
Later, in the inconsequential doubles rubber, the pair of Rushmi Chakravarthi and Venkatesha defeated Lu and Ran Tian 6-3 6-2 to end the day on winning note.
India now must beat Thailand (Thursday) and Uzbekistan (Friday) in the next Pool A ties to stand a chance to progress to World Group II play-offs.
The winners of both the pools (A and B) will compete in play-offs to decide which nation progresses to World Group II play-offs, to be held on April 16-17.
India were promoted to Group I last year when they won all three ties, beating Singapore, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan.
China were relegated to Group I after losing 2-3 to to Sweden in the World Group II play-offs in Helsingborg.
India`s best Fed Cup performance came in 2006, when it ended as the runner-up in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.