CTL: Baghdatis excels in Marshalls’ win over Rangers

With the livewire Marcos Baghdatis, the Most Valuable Player of the first edition, and Saketh Myneni, the best Indian player in its ranks, Punjab Marshalls did have the edge, and it executed a fine game to overwhelm the Rangers. Both teams had beaten Mumbai Tennis Mastersand it was an important match to decide who makes it to the final.

Marcos Baghdatis played well with Saketh Myneni to win the men's doubles tie.   -  Reuters

A rousing start ensured a favourable finish for host Punjab Marshalls as it accelerated to a 23-15 victory over Raipur Rangers in the Champions Tennis League at the red bowl CLTA Stadium here on Friday.

Both teams had beaten Mumbai Tennis Masters in Mumbai, and it was an important match to decide who dictates the flow in the three-team group, and eventually makes it to the final in Hyderabad.

With the livewire Marcos Baghdatis, the Most Valuable Player of the first edition, and Saketh Myneni, the best Indian player in its ranks, Punjab Marshalls did have the edge, and it executed a fine game to overwhelm the Rangers.

Raucous crowd

A good crowd, as compared to last year, did make it a lively atmosphere, but incessant whistling and demands for ‘doublefault’ even before the first serve, especially against Alize Cornet, who had beaten Serena Williams thrice on the professional circuit, did make it a bit unpleasant. Yet, the high quality of tennis made it an enjoyable evening for all.

Captain Greg Rusedski, quite keen to compensate for his early exit from the tournament last year, was a class act, as he served and volleyed at times, to outclass former World No.1 Thomas Muster.

Elina Svitolina further consolidated the lead as she hit with a lot of energy, brought off stunning drops and ran down the counter drops elegantly to overwhelm Alize Cornet 5-1.

The host could have sealed the mixed doubles as well at 4-3, when it twice had match points, but opted not to encash the super point which the team had gained before the start of the tie, when the junior boy Sivadeep Kosavaraju broke the target with his serve. It was used later in the last rubber, at deuce in the fifth game.

It was some reward for the rivals for the quality of tennis that they played, and the energy with which they competed, particularly Alize, as she combined brilliantly with Roberto Bautista Agut to take the mixed doubles rubber in the tie-break.

Baghdatis-Saketh outstanding in men’s doubles

In the doubles, Baghdatis and Saketh were outstanding as they took a 3-0 lead. Ramkumar held serve and helped Agut break Saketh’s serve to make it a fight, but not for long. What followed was only of academic interest, as Punjab Marshalls had taken an invincible 19-10 lead in the number of games won. Yet, Agut and Baghdatis were unmindful of the consequences and played as best as they could, even as the crowd went silent to enjoy the tennis.

Since Agut won the last rubber 5-3, the match had to continue till Baghdatis won a game, and he promptly won the first game, from being down 0-30.