Hyderabad Aces take on Punjab Marshalls in the final of the second edition of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the floodlit L. B. Stadium tennis complex here on Sunday evening.
The general pattern in the CTL so far has been that the men’s singles match, which is scheduled to be the last in the tie, is proving to be decisive. This is where the big-serving Ivo Karlovic played a key role in guiding Aces into the final on Friday night when he outgunned Feliciano Lopez of Orangers in the crucial match which progressed into a tie-breaker. Quite naturally, Aces bench will look to this tall and athletic Karlovic to come good in the final too.
“Yes, I was glad Ivo was in my team, especially after the way he fought back to down Orangers last night to clinch the final berth. But, again, every match is important and every player is a key in the team’s fortunes. I must say even Hingis played some unbelievable tennis so far in this edition,” remarked Aces captain Thomas Johansson, who will feature in the Legends singles against Marshalls captain Greg Rusedski, the 1997 US Open finalist.
Hingis takes on Svitolina
Aces should look to their biggest star and former World No. 1 Martina Hingis to showcase her famed skills against an opponent who is 14 years younger and also reigning World No 19, Elina Svitolina. “We have been working really hard to be in this position right throughout. We know that Marshalls is a very tough team to beat. But we have had very good preparations,” Johansson said.
For his part, Rusedski reminded that they would try to go one further having come thus far. “Every match is crucial as the format is really exciting. We know what quality of game the likes of Hingis and Ivo can produce. On the given night, whoever plays be the best will naturally win,” he added.
The grey areas of concern for Aces are women’s singles featuring Hingis and the men’s doubles combination of Karlovic and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, with the latter clearly not able to raise the bar. Tomorrow they should be up against the combine of Baghdatis and the Indian Davis Cupper Saketh Myneni.
By all means, the clash between Marcos Baghdatis and Karlovic should be exciting and decisive in the final. The 30-year-old Baghdatis, who was the 2006 Australian Open runner-up and also Wimbledon semi-finalist the same year, is still regarded one of the dangerous players at least in these kind of events. Always a huge favourite in the circuit, Baghdatis could well be the trump card for Marshalls in their campaign to clinch the title.