After toppling world number 120 Lin Zhu, a highly motivated and pumped up Ankita Raina is raring to pull off more upset wins when India take on formidable Kazakhstan in a must-win Fed Cup tie on Thursday.
Ankita came out firing on all cylinders to subdue Zhu in the second singles even as India lost the tie later following defeat in the decisive doubles.
The top-ranked Indian in singles at number 253, will tackle world number 55 Zarina Diyas, to whom she had lost way back in 2013.
“We are playing at home and that’s an advantage. I have beaten their (Kazakh) top players,” said Ankita when asked about Thursday’s clash against the favourties.
She was referring to her win over Yaroslava Shvedova, winner of one WTA singles and 13 doubles title, during Fed Cup in 2016 when the latter had retired after losing the first set.
The win over Zhu today was Ankita’s first in fourth attempts. “I am happy with the way I played but could have played better. My movement, court coverage and fitness was good today. I was going for my shots but I could have hit harder, I was holding back sometimes,” Ankita said.
“Having matches in India helped. I had my mother and maternal uncle watching and that motivated me and had pumped me up. Fed Cup is different. You have your team, coach by your side on all points. I don’t get this benefit on the Tour,” she said.
Ankita also defended her compatriot Karman Kaur Thandi, who bowed out with a tame defeat against Yafan Wang.
“She is young and was playing Fed Cup for the first time at home. She will play more freely in future,” she said.
Meanwhile, India captain Ankita Bhambri rued the lost opportunity to beat China. “After Ankita’s win in second singles, I was very hopeful. I have seen Ankita and Prarthna combing well and play some good doubles matches but the Chinese were very sharp and returned everything. We lost a few early games. They were pretty strong,” Bhambri said.
Talking about Karman, Bhambri said, “Today was not her day. She did not play according to our expectations. She was displaced. She was trying too much.”
“She had chances within the games. The other girl was strong and never let Karman settle. She got all the balls back,” the captain said exuding confidence that the young Delhi girl will play better tomorrow.
Karman will play with Yuliya Putintseva, who is now ranked 81 but was in top-50 very recently. Putintseva had reached the second round at the Australian Open last month and had ended runner-up at the WTA Premier event in St Petersburg last year.
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