CTL: Hingis and Jankovic to lock horns

It will be a battle between two former World No.1 players when Martina Hingis of Hyderabad Aces and Jelena Jankovic of Nagpur Orangers lead the challenge for their respective teams in the second edition of the Champions Tennis League.

Jelena Jankovic has never won a Grand Slam despite being ranked world number one.   -  R Ragu

It will be a battle between two former World No.1 players when Martina Hingis of Hyderabad Aces and Jelena Jankovic of Nagpur Orangers lead the challenge for their respective teams in the second edition of the Champions Tennis League match to be played at the floodlit LB Stadium tennis complex here on Sunday.

For the record, both teams had won one tie each till now with Hyderabad defeating Chennai Warriors 25-16 and Nagpur beating the same outfit with a 24-23 win.

Hyderabad Aces look to Hingis, who could be the most popular amongst the foreign players in India by virtue of her winning partnership with India’s Sania Mirza in women’s doubles this year, and the big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who saw to that his team won all three games he featured in the previous encounter.

Quite naturally, Hingis and Swede Thomas Johannson are confidence personified about tomorrow’s game. They hope to continue the winning form for Aces in front of what they expect to be a lustily-cheering home crowd.

“I played here last time and really enjoyed the atmosphere. It is great to be back and we hope to provide the fans joy with our performance by notching up our second win,” Hingis pointed out.

On the other hand, Orangers, making their debut in the CTL this season, are not to be overawed either by the likely atmosphere in the stands or by the reputation of the big names in the opposition.

“The format is exciting which demands someone to give his or her 100 per cent always,” said the articulate 41-year-old Alex Corretja, former member of the Davis Cup winning squad. “Everything happens fast in this format and you have to be on your toes always. This is what makes this CTL so interesting and exciting,” points out the two-time French Open finalist.

For her part, Jankovic, the 2008 US Open finalist, who was one of the few to get the better of Serena Williams on the circuit, is aware that it will be “very difficult” to face the big-serving Karlovic. “And, Hingis is one of the best doubles players right now in the world and also holds the World No.1 ranking with Sania. It should be a very competitive match,” she said.

“We are a good team and respect each other. Every game is important and there will be pressure every time to win in any format for sure,” remarked the 34-year-old Feliciano Lopez, who recently had a career-best ranking of World No. 12.

By all means, it should be a feast of quality tennis even if it means some of these players are clearly ageing but since some of them are still active in the circuit, tomorrow’s match can be competitive and provide excitement to the fans.