Billie Jean King Cup: Ankita Raina to play first game against Jelena Ostapenko: The draw for the playoffs tie between India and Latvia of the Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup took place at the National Tennis Centre Lielupe, Jurmala, Latvia on Thursday.
As per the draw, on Day 1, it will be the 2017 French Open Champion and current World No. 52 Jelena Ostapenko who will be going up against India’s top ranked singles player Ankita Raina in the first match. While the Karman Kaur Thandi will be up against Latvia’s highest ranked player in the team Anastasija Sevastova. On Day 2, it will be two reverse singles matches to start off the proceedings as Ankita Raina will face Anastasija Sevastova while Karman Kaur Thandi will play against Jelena Ostapenko.
The last match of the tie will be a doubles encounter between the pairing of Indian doubles star Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina who will be up against Diana Marcinkevica and Daniela Vismane of Latvia.
Speaking about the tie Ankita Raina said, “It is a historic tie for us, and it’s a strong game but we are ready for this challenge and glad to have this opportunity so I’ve got the best tennis whenever I’ve played for my country so I’m excited for the time.”
On being asked will the hard courts suit the Indian team more team captain Vishal Uppal was very prompt in replying and said: “Yeah, I mean obviously we’re more comfortable playing on hard courts, than we are, perhaps on clay, and I think more than the courts in fact there will be no home crowd support. I think that kind of gives us a slightly better chance also because this is the first time we’ve got to this stage, and the pressure that the home crowd can put on the team is not going to be there. So I think we will be a little bit more at ease playing knowing that, you know there won’t be five 7000 people screaming and shouting at us. But it also takes the fun away from, you know, a cup.”
Vishal Uppal also commented on the fact whether Ankita playing in three matches effect their chances in the tie. Uppal said: “Well, I mean, you know, Ankita is a professional, she knows, coming to the tie, what is expected of her and you know just like everyone else he will she’s prepared to do whatever it takes for us to try and win the tie. She has to play three matches then so be it. She is going to be ready for it.”
The tie which will go on for two days shall be LIVE for the Indian fans on April 16, Friday and April 17, Saturday from 8:30 PM and 4:30 PM IST onward respectively on Eurosport and Eurosport HD.
The winner of the tie will be guaranteed a spot in the BJK Cup qualifiers for 2022 while the loser of the tie shall compete in their respective regional Group 1 event in 2022.