THAILAND’S bid to reach the weekend’s final suffered the first blow yesterday after they were routed 3-0 by powerful Japan in the Pool B preliminary round action of the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Qualifying Group I tie in New Delhi.
The Kingdom’s squad needed to an upset win over the Japanese team, the toughest in the pool, for a chance to meet the winners of Pool A on Saturday to battle for a ticket to the World Group II play-off. But that was an unlikely case.
Thailand lost the first rubber easily when world No 224 Peangtarn Plipuech was dispatched 6-0 6-2 by the 102nd-ranked Kurumi Nara in just an hour.
The momentum appeared to swing to the Thai side when Thai ace Luksika Kumkhum, ranked No 99 in the world, was serving for the match against the 90th-ranked Nao Hibino at 7-5 5-4. All of a sudden, she lapsed into numerous errors and lost the set 7-6 (5-7). In the decider, she was blown away 6-0 to lose the match after a two-hour of fight.
“I didn’t play up to my level. I had my chances but I let them slip away. In the third set, she didn’t miss at all. I regret that I didn’t win this rubber for the team,” said Luksika, who has now lost to the Japanese three times in a row.
Thailand conceded the third point when the duo of Peangtarn and Nicha Lertpitaksinchai went down to Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya 6-3 6-3.
A win over Thailand is a big step for Japan to become the pool leader and earn a spot in the Saturday’s final as they should have no problem winning the remaining ties against South Korea and Taiwan.
In order to avoid releation to Group II, Thailand now must beat South Korea and Taiwan to finish second in the group as the third-placed team will play the fourth-placed team from the other pool.