Unbeaten India gets promotion to Group I in Fed Cup

Shenzhen (China): Sania Mirza won the crucial second-round singles match and then combined with Isha Lakhani to clinch the decisive doubles rubber as India earned promotion to Asia/Oceania Group I in Fed Cup after a 2-1 victory over Hong Kong in the play-off tie on Saturday.

Down 0-1, after a 4-6, 1-6 mauling of Rutuja Bhosale at the hands of Wing-Yau Venise Chan, India needed to win the second singles rubber to stay in contention.

Sania did not disappoint and came back from a set down to get the better of Ling Zhang 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 to level the tie.

It was for the first time that Sania was fielded in the singles match. Earlier Prerna Bhambri, Isha and Rutuja had played in all the singles matches.

Sania and Isha then rallied to win the tough doubles match 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-5 against Chan and Zhang to help India move to the Group I.

In next year`s competition, India will strive to earn a place in the World Group. India were relegated to Group II last year when they lost all the league stage rubbers and play-off tie.

India`s best Fed Cup performance came in 2006 when they were the runner-up in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I.