New Delhi: India's campaign at the Fed Cup has suffered a big jolt even before its start as country's top player Sania Mirza has pulled out of the tournament due to a hip strain sustained during the Australian Open. Sania has been advised two weeks off after initial assessments in Australia. She will not be able to defend her doubles title at Pattaya tournament.
The exact status of her injury will come after some tests on Monday in Hyderabad. If the tests reveal a tear, she could be out for longer duration. Sania had lost in the mixed doubles quarter-finals with new partner Bob Bryan after making a shock first round exit in the women's doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
India made its way back in Group I after spending a year in Group II. India had beaten Hong Kong 2-1 in the promotional play-off in February 2012 to re-enter Group I. The All India Tennis Association will now have to look for her replacement in the team, which has Kyra Shroff, Rutuja Bhosale and Rishika Sunkara as the other members.
Fed Cup rules permit change in two nominations 10 days prior to the tie. Ankita Raina and Prerna Bhambri were named reserve players for the women's team event, beginning February 6 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
India have been drawn in the three-team Group A which has hosts Kazakhstan and Thailand. Group B consists of China, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan. The winners of each pool will Play-off against each other to determine which nation will advance to the World Group II Play-offs in April 2013.
The nations in second place in each pool will play against each other to determine the final position within the group. The nation in the third position in Pool A will play-off against the nation in fourth position in Pool B to determine which one nation will be relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone Group II in 2014.