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Billie Jean King Cup: India beat New Zealand 2-1 to stay in Group I

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Antalya (Turkey), April 16 (IANS) The Indian women’s tennis team defeated New Zealand 2-1 in its fourth Billie Jean King Cup 2022 Asia/Oceania Group I tie and avoided relegation to Group II for next year, here.

India’s No 1 player in women’s singles Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale won their respective singles rubbers but Riya Bhatia and Sowjanya Bavisetti lost their doubles match on the clay courts of the MTA Tennis Academy.

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The 26-year old Bhosale, ranked 477 in the world, played the opening singles match against world No 1342 Valentina Ivanov and took the first set convincingly. The Indian faced stiff resistance in the second set but eventually won the match 6-1, 7(7)-6(3) in one hour and 20 minutes on late Friday.

Meanwhile, Ankita Raina, ranked 319, had to fight hard in the first set before cruising in the next for a 7-5, 6-3 win against Kiwi No 1 Paige Hourigan in a clash, which lasted for one hour and 34 minutes.

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However, the Indian women’s doubles team of Sowjanya Bavisetti and Riya Bhatia, faltered once again and lost the dead rubber to Paige Hourigan and Erin Routliffe 2-6, 0-6 in one hour and 3 minutes.

India will play their final tie against South Korea. However, with back-to-back wins against Indonesia and New Zealand, they have already secured a third or fourth finish in the pool of six teams. The Indian women’s tennis team had lost to Japan and China in its opening two matches.

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Notably, the teams finishing in the top two are promoted to the play-offs while the fifth and sixth-placed teams are relegated to next year’s Group II. The teams finishing third or fourth will keep their places in next season’s Group I.

Japan and China, with four wins in as many ties, sit on top. South Korea and India follow with two wins and two losses while winless Indonesia and New Zealand are fifth and sixth, respectively, an olympics.com report said.

The Billie Jean King Cup, formerly known as the Fed Cup, is a world team championship for women’s tennis.

Last season, Sania Mirza helped India qualify for their maiden World Group play-offs with an unbeaten run in Group I. India, however, lost to Latvia 1-3 in the play-off tie and dropped back to this year’s Group I stage.

–IANS

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