Tennis

Fed Cup ties featuring India to be held in Dubai

The event was supposed to be held in China in February but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

By Rahul Venkat ·

The 2020 Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event is set to be held at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium between 3-7 March, the International Tennis Federation confirmed on Friday.

The event, originally scheduled to be played in February at the Dongguan Tennis Centre in Dongguan, China was initially shifted to the National Tennis Centre in Nur-sultan, Kazakhstan, where the 2019 edition was held, after the coronavirus outbreak in China led to restricted travel.

However, Dubai will now host the event after the ATP 500 tournament ends on February 29.

Sania Mirza’s participation uncertain

India is part of Group I of the Asia/Oceania Fed Cup and the team includes tennis veteran, Sania Mirza, who will be playing in the competition for the first time in four years.

The 33-year-old returned to competitive tennis this year after a two-year maternity break and started in great fashion, winning the doubles title at the Hobart International along with Ukranian partner, Nadiia Kichenok.

However, Sania Mirza was forced to withdraw from the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open after a calf injury so it remains to be seen if she will recover in time for the tournament.

The other members of the Indian contingent include youngsters Ankita Raina, India’s highest-ranked singles player (198), Riya Bhatia, Rutuja Bhosale and Karman Kaur Thandi, with Sowjanya Bavisetti acting as the reserve player and Ankita Bhambri, the coach.

Ankita Raina in prime form

Ankita Raina will likely shoulder the burden of carrying the Indian team and she looks set to do that effectively, going by her recent exploits. The 27-year-old won the doubles title along with Dutch partner, Bibiane Schoofs, beating the pair of Jia-Qi Kang and Miyabi Inoue 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 at the ITF $25K Challenger at Nonthaburi, Thailand.

This was the Indian’s third title in the space of a week after she won both the singles and doubles titles at another Challenger tournament in Thailand.

Fed Cup format

India will be joined in Group I by five other countries- China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, South Korea, and Uzbekistan. They will play each other in a round-robin format and the top two nations will advance to the Fed Cup play-offs, set to be held in April.

The draw for the Fed Cup play-offs will be held on 11 February, with two spots reserved for the top nations from Group I. Meanwhile, the bottom two nations from Group I will be relegated to a lower group.