India ended its campaign at the Fed Cup with a fourth place finish after losing the classification tie 1-2 to Korea as the team badly missed injured Karman Kaur Thandi, who did not play on Saturday, in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Captain Vishal Uppal handed national champion Mahak Jain her Fed Cup debut after a groin strain forced Karman out of the tie.
The diminutive Mahak played her heart out before losing steam towards the end for a 2-6, 6-3, 1-6 defeat against Na Ri Kim.
Like on many occasions, Ankita came out to level the tie as she outplayed Sunam Jiong 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 18 minutes.
The doubles became decisive but Ankita and Prarthana Thombare lost the close rubber 4-6, 4-6 to the Korean team of Su Jeong Jang and Kim.
Captain Uppal said India had a good chance to win this tie.
"Big learning curve for Mahak today. She could have won this match but she dropped off at the start of the third set which you cannot afford to do against a good player," Uppal said.
Ankita dominated her match and we could have won 2-0 today or even 2-1 had Karman been fit enough to play."
Uppal said future was bright for the Indian Fed Cup team players.
"As a captain I have seen a lot of good things which we need to build on. I think once we have all our best girls healthy we can become an even more dangerous team. I am encouraged by the fact we are a young team and we will only keep getting better.
"I am probably a bit disappointed about today's result but overall I am very upbeat about our future prospects. I think Ankita can break through to top 100 this year if she stays healthy and keeps playing the way she has played this week," said Uppal.
Merciless Monfils hands Tsitsipas lesson in Sofia
Gael Monfils doled out another lesson in outstanding tennis, winning 93 percent of points on his first serve, as he reached the semi-finals of the Sofia Open on Friday with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over Greece’s emerging talent Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The experienced Frenchman, who has slipped to 33 in the world rankings after a series of injuries, looked in ominously good form as he took his place in the last four without dropping a set this week.
The 32-year-old eased through the first set after breaking Tsitsipas’s serve at the first time of asking and comfortably won the tiebreak in the second.
“I was very aggressive today,” said Monfils.
“I tried to dictate (the tempo) and I did my job at the end. Today I served very well, this is my best serving day so far.”
On Saturday Monfils will meet Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev who dismantled Slovakian Martin Klizan in straight sets to progress to the semi-finals.
Medvedev came out of the blocks fast and Klizan could not cope with the big-hitting Russian, who fired nine aces during his comfortable 6-4, 6-1 win without offering up a single break point.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini mounted a stirring comeback to upset sixth seed Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, claiming a second famous scalp in the Bulgarian capital this week.
World number 53 Berrettini, who stunned top seed Karen Khachanov with a three-set win in the second round, recovered from a nervous start to produce another masterful display of power-hitting and solid serving against the Spanish veteran.
“Like in the match against Karen, I was a set down and I tried to stay focused,” said the 6ft 5in Italian, who turns 23 in April.
“I knew I had to fight and I’m glad it went well.”
Berrettini’s semi-final opponent will be Hungarian Marton Fucsovics who made it to the last four on his 27th birthday after fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, the Sofia Open winner in 2016, withdrew before the quarter-finals due to illness.
Harris shocks Gunneswaran in Challenger semis, Mukund bows out
Unseeded Australian Andrew Harris shocked top-seed Pranjnesh Gunneswaran 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in the semi-final of the Chennai Open ATP Challenger tennis tournament in Chennai on Saturday.
The Indian challenge ended as 16th-seeded Sasikumar Mukund went down to second seed Corentin Moutet 6-3, 4-6, 2-6 in the other singles semi-final.
Harris, a former junior doubles winner at Wimbledon and French Open, hit his groundstrokes with precision and attacked at opportune moments to take the first set.
Harris, who had ousted fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a three setter on Friday, was also prepared for a long drawn out encounter.
Gunneswaran, India's top singles player, clawed his way back into the match by raising his level of play and hitting some superb winners.
He secured a break and took the second set but came a cropper in the decider, failing to win a single game, to crash out of the tournament.
In the other semi-final, Mukund’s good run came to an end as the tenacious Frenchman hit back after losing the opening set.
Mukund served well and stroke with confidence to take the set but seemed to lose steam while Moutet got better with the passage of play.
The second-seeded Frenchman dominated in the final set to take it 6-2 to seal a spot in the final against Harris, who had ousted fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a three setter on Friday.
Herbert beats Berdych to reach Montpellier final
French seventh seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert downed Czech Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-5 to reach the final of the Open Sud de France in Montpellier on Saturday.
Herbert breezed through the opening set but Berdych offered more resistance in the second, only for the former world number four to crack at a key moment.
A Berdych double fault at 5-5 in the second set earned Herbert a break and the Frenchman then served it out to claim his first win against the Czech.
He will face either compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Moldova's Radu Albot on Sunday.