CTL: Punjab Marshalls overwhelm Mumbai Masters

The crowd was bigger and better behaved, as hosts Punjab Marshalls kept everyone happy with an overwhelming 24-13 victory over Mumbai Tennis Masters in the Champions Tennis League at the red bowl CLTA Stadium here on Saturday.

Elina Svitolina of Punjab Marshalls in action against Mumbai Tennis Masters' Flavia Pennetta in the women's singles match of the Champions Tennis League (CTL).   -  Prashant Nakwe

The crowd was bigger and better behaved, as hosts Punjab Marshalls kept everyone happy with an overwhelming 24-13 victory over Mumbai Tennis Masters in the Champions Tennis League at the red bowl CLTA Stadium here on Saturday.

While it was the third victory in as many ties for Punjab, it was a third loss for Mumbai who had lost both their home matches earlier.

With the next set of matches in the three-team group to be played in Raipur, Punjab had virtually sealed their berth in the final.

The crowd did not have to get involved in the match with its cheering as the ever-smiling Richard Krajicek, the Wimbledon champion of 1996 , took the sting away from the home support by telling the umpire that the whistling and shouting by the crowd, even when he was serving, did not bother him!

Krajicek did fight a bit, but Greg Rusedski the Punjab captain was sharp in pulling through for a 5-3 victory as he broke the famed Krajicek serve twice.

Elina Svitolina, preparing to break into the top-10 in the women’s circuit next season, was pretty solid for the reigning US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, who struggled to find her rhythm, and even a change of racquet after two games did not help her case.





Punjab kept marching lead, by taking a 15-5 lead after the mixed doubles, in which Marcos Baghdatis and Svitolina blanked the birthday boy Santiago Giraldo and Pennetta.

When Saketh Myneni and Baghdatis took a 3-0 lead, and went up 4-1, in the men’s doubles, it looked an early finish for the evening. However, the Punjab duo faltered and thus infused some life into the contest.

At 4-4, Balaji and Giraldo won the tie-break 5-2, with Balaji stepping up to the challenge with his all-round game.

There was a request for Baghdatis to join the team owners for a “bhangra” dance, during the break for a brief television interview prior to the fifth rubber, but the Cypriot politely suggested having it after the last match.

Despite visibly running low on energy, quite understandable after two days of vibrant performances on court in three rubbers each day, Baghdatis mixed up his game with some delectable drops to tame Giraldo.

Honestly, Baghdatis could not relax his strong game, because he knew that a loss in the last rubber would only force him to stay longer on court.