Fed Cup: Ankita, Karman ensure India stay in Group I

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NEW DELHI: Ankita Raina prevailed over her rival in a long-drawn dog-fight after Karman Kaur Thandi’s impressive win as India retained their place in the Asia/Oceania Group I in the Fed Cup after beating Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the relegation Play-off on Saturday.
Rising to the occasion, Karman produced a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over a crafty Lee Pei-Chi to hand India a 1-0 lead in the do-or-die tie.
Ankita, who had played some incredible matches against higher-ranked rivals, then ran into a wily left-hander Chieh-Yu Hsu, who is ranked at a humble 377 but forced Ankita to play out of her skin.
Eventually, after an energy-sapping two hour and 54 minutes, Ankita emerged a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 winner to ensure that India remain in the Group I.
Japan qualified for the World Group Play-off after beating Kazakhstan 2-1. Both Japan and Kazakhstan had remained unbeaten in their Pools.
Ankita, playing the tennis of her life, remained unbeaten in her singles matches in the competition, winning all her four matches.
Running into an opponent who, being a left-hander, fed Ankita a lot of angled balls to her backhand, the Indian girl had to re-work strategy as she was unable to hit the balls deep.
It was a strategy which had paid her good dividends in previous matches but playing on a slower court made her job tough as hitting the ball hard was never enough.
With almost every ball coming back and no free points available, Ankita had to dig deep to find a way in breaking the solid defence of her opponent, whose best rank was 224.