Isha faced some late resistance from Dy before prevailingCaptain Enrico Piperno had preserved Sania and Shikha for the tie against Chinese Taipei

New Delhi: India stamped its class as it swept aside Philippines and Chinese Taipei to top Pool `B' in the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania zonal qualifying tennis tie in Seoul, Korea, on Thursday.

After Isha Lakhani and Ankita Bhambri defeated Philippines 2-0, Shikha Uberoi and Sania Mirza thrashed Chinese Taipei with an identical scoreline in the second match in Group 1.

India takes on New Zealand in its final pool engagement on Friday and a win there would pit it in the final on Saturday probably against Australia. The winner of the final goes through to a July play-off for the World Group 2.

Nomination change

India had originally nominated Sania and Shikha to play against Philippines, but was forced to change the nominations after the tie was washed out by rains on Wednesday.

Yet, Isha and Ankita proved to be too good for 16-year-old Denise Dy and Czarina-Mae Arevalo.

Isha faced some late resistance from Dy before prevailing 6-0, 7-6(3). Ankita then grappled with some rough form on the slow outdoor hard courts for a 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2 win over Arevalo.

Captain Enrico Piperno had preserved Sania, who was carrying multiple injuries, as also Shikha for the tie against Chinese Taipei.

Shikha, world number 183, bounced back from a first set deficit to beat Yung-Jan Chan (173) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first singles.

Sania, the highest ranked Indian woman ever at 40 on the WTA Tour, then subdued 128th ranked Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 7-6(4) in the second rubber. The last time the two girls met, in a junior event in 2001, Hsieh had prevailed.

In the other matches, Chinese Taipei beat New Zealand which in turn trounced Philippines.

Piperno gave credit to Isha and Ankita for justifying his decision to play them against Philippines instead of Shikha and Sania. "My decision proved to be a master stroke," Piperno told PTI from Seoul. "Last year Chinese Taipei had come to India with four under-18 players, this time it had its best players. And its number two player was better than Australia's number two. That is how I saw it."

The results: India bt Philippines 2-0 [Isha Lakhani bt Denise Dy 6-0, 7-6(3); Ankita Bhambri bt Czarina-Mae Arevalo 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2].

India bt Chinese Taipei 2-0 [Shikha Uberoi bt Yung-Jan Chan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Sania Mirza bt Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 7-6(4)]. PTI

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