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Fed Cup

04/17/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/17/2021 07:46

Sevastova beats Raina to seal tie for Latvia in Jurmala

Anastasija Sevastova showed her superior skills against Ankita Raina to secure an unassailable 3-0 lead over India after the first reverse singles match of the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas play-off tie in Jurmala on Saturday.

Despite not having any spectators to cheer them on, hosts Latvia were the clear favourites to gain a qualifying round spot for next year's finals of the competition and Sevastova sealed the tie with a 60 76(4) win in one hour and 31 minutes.

Sevastova, the world No. 47, certainly put in a shift against Raina (No. 174) and wasted no time in proving that she had what was needed to win this encounter, although she relinquished her grip in the second set and allowed Raina to gain two set points at 5-3.

Raina took a comfort break after the first set and found new confidence after the match looked as if it was going to be a blowout. While Sevastova's concentration wavered a little, Raina managed to lengthen the points and caused her favored host to commit errors.

The Latvian was mostly solid, rather than brilliant, in her performance and initially, hardly looked as if she would relinquish her grip on the match, which began with an opening break of serve against her opposing No. 1.

On Friday against Jelena Ostapenko, Raina took full advantage of the Latvian's many errors to keep herself in the match but in this encounter, Sevastova's dip in concentration was temporary, and she managed to show her ability to surmount any manifest danger by increasing her power and accuracy. Despite racing to a 5-2 lead, there was always a sense that Raina was only permitted to play as well as her opponent would allow.

At the outset, the shorter rallies almost all went in Sevastova's favour, as the Indian was the one making the mistakes, or she was unable to cope with the Latvian's powerful groundstrokes that inevitably found an opening for a winning shot into an open court. But in the second set, with the errors creeping into the home favourite's game, Raina pursued her tactic of battling away from the baseline and let Sevastova make Sevastova miss.

Raina managed to take the set to a tiebreak but Sevastova was always marginally ahead and she secured the win for the loss of four points.

As appropriate in the days of Covid, with no cheering crowds, the celebrations were muted and Sevastova and her teammates briefly did half a lap of honour around the court.

Sevastova's victory followed her own win on Friday against Karman Kaur Thandi 64 60 and Ostapenko's drawn out win over Raina 62 57 75.

Saturday's remaining singles match will not be played. The dead doubles rubber will see Latvia's Daniela Vismane and Patricija Spaka take on India's Rutuja Bhosale and Zeel Desai.