Fed Cup: Sania Mirza suffers shock defeat; India beaten by Japan

Hua Hin (Thailand): Ankita Raina recorded the biggest win of her career by beating world number 56 Nao Hibino but Sania Mirza suffered a rare defeat in doubles as India lost their Group A Fed Cup contest 1-2 to Japan, in Thailand on Thursday.

Ankita, India’s number one singles player at 307, took the court after Prarthana Thombare had lost the opening singles. Battling the odds, Ankita toppled the world number 56 with her 6-3 6-1 win over the Japanese number one. Prarthana, ranked as low as 523, had lost tamely 2-6 1-6 to Eri Hozumi, placed 206, as India trailed 0-1.

Ankita though drew parity for Indian with her shock win. India, at that point, had a real chance to upset the fancied Japan with having world number one player in Sania in the team. However, Sania and Prarthana lost 5-7 3-6 to the pairing of Shuko Aoyama and Hozumi. Aoyana was ranked as high as 31 in the doubles in 2013.

With Sania in side – who has not lost a match since US Open in 2015 and has weaved an incredible 36-match winning streak, India had a great chance to beat Japan. India have already lost to hosts Thailand 0-3 on Wednesday and now they are out of the reckoning for the Play-offs for the World Group II. India will take on Uzbekistan in their last Group engagement tomorrow.

Talking about her memorable win against Hibino, Ankita said she was confident of putting up a good fight today. “I had played well against Thailand yesterday. This is my first win over a top-100 player and I am one more step closer to my goal. The thing that helped me win this match is I could stay aggressive throughout the match. I have been trying to do that in the past few months,” Ankita told PTI.

“I have last very close matches recently with top players. I had opportunities but could not seize those. But Sania told me how to play against the girl before my match and I was able to do that. So it was very helpful,” she said.