Led by the experienced Sania Mirza, the Indian Fed Cup team on Saturday created history by earning a promotion to the playoffs for the first time and the former doubles world No 1 believed that a moment like this is the reason she made a comeback to the sport this year.
Mirza, along with the ever-improving Ankita Raina led the side to 2-1 win over Indonesia, as Indian women sealed their spot in the playoffs against Latvia.
“This place in the play-offs is a huge step for women’s tennis in India. We are coming from a country where women’s tennis was redundant like 15 years ago,” Mirza is quoted as saying by Gulf News. “And now we have a really good bunch of girls, who also need to take that next step, be it into the top-100 or into the top-50,” said Mirza, adding that despite a couple of tough defeats the likes of Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale can take a lot of confidence from their efforts.
Raina pulled off a crucial singles win against talented Aldila Sutjiadi to lock the tie 1-1 after Bhosale suffered a crushing defeat against an unranked Priska Madelyn Nugroho.
Up against the 16-year-old Indonesian, who is ranked 15th on the ITF junior circuit, Rutuja lost 3-6 6-0 3-6 in one hour and 43 minutes in the opening singles. Raina, who lost her previous two singles, demolished the challenge of talented Aldila Sutjiadi 6-3 6-3 in the second rubber.
She then combined with seasoned Mirza to beat Sutziyadi and Nugroho 7-6(4) 6-0 as India joined China in progressing.
India finished second in the six-team Group with four wins in a row after losing the opening tie to China, who remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Mirza, who returned to India’s Fed Cup squad after a four-year absence, played a crucial role in helping India advance by winning all three of her deciding doubles matches in the last three days of competition. The 33-year-old is returning to the circuit this year after a maternity break.
“Last night was a rough night and I didn’t get to sleep till 4 am,” Mirza recalled after the win. “And then I have a child who wakes up for food a couple of times during the night. After that, to come out here and get that intensity going is a tough ask. Mentally, I think I can do it but I think is more the body. It is really day-to-day.”
“But that said, I am here for moments like these. This is why I made a comeback – these are feelings that you can’t replace in normal life as you are not winning tennis matches. We are so privileged to do what we are doing,” she said.