New Delhi: India lost 1-2 to Kazakhstan in a Pool A tie of the Federation Cup tennis tournament on Thursday. The Indians are now out of contention for a place in the World Group playoffs.
The only bright spot of the day for the hosts was the performance of Ankita Raina who battled past Yulia Putintseva in a hard-fought singles encounter to help India draw level at 1-1 after Karman Kaur Thandi had lost the opening singles to Zarina Diyas.
Ranked 259th, Ankita battled medical issues and a tough fightback from Yulia to clinch a well-deserved 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory.
However, Ankita and Prarthana Thombare were thrashed 0-6, 4-6 by Diyas and Putintseva in the doubles as the Kazakhs recorded a comfortable win.
The hosts started off on the wrong foot as Thandi went down in straight sets to world No. 60 Zarina Diyas in the first singles. The 19-year-old Thandi was no match for her more experienced opponent, going down 3-6, 2-6.
The world No. 285 Indian committed too many unforced errors and her serve, though powerful, lacked the accuracy to trouble her opponent.
After winning the opening set without too much trouble, Diyas continued to dominate the second set. She broke Thandi`s serve in the fifth game of the second set to open up a 4-1 lead.
The Indian broke back in the next game to reduce the gap.
But Thandi's serve let her down as Diyas clinched another break in the next game and then held serve to ensure victory.
Ankita then brought some much-needed cheer to the sparse local crowd with a spirited performance against Putintseva. She grabbed the early advantage, breaking her opponent once in the first set to take the lead.
Ankita seemed to be troubled my medical issues during the second set, which allowed Yulia to stage a strong comeback. She broke Ankita`s serve before holding serve to take a 4-1 lead.
The Kazakh broke Ankita's serve again to win the set and level the scores. The Indian was forced to take a medical timeout before returning to the court.
Yulia forced another service break early in the third set to take the lead. She held serve in the next game to open up a 3-1 lead.
Yulia put pressure on Ankita`s serve again in the next game, forcing several break-points. But the Indian managed to hold serve and reduce the gap to 2-3.
The next game saw some excellent rallies before Yulia fired her return long to hand Ankita a service break. She then held serve to take the lead at 4-3.
Although Yulia held serve to draw level, Ankita won her next service game to regain the lead. She then earned another service break to win the set and the match.