They say beating Serena Williams is next to impossible. Last year, Alize Cornet achieved the feat on three occasions. The adorable Frenchwoman, whose game is based on grit and determination, gave a superb account of herself as the Raipur Rangers thrashed the Mumbai Tennis Masters 23-14 (3-5, 5-2, 5-3, 5-2, 5-2) on Day Two of the second edition of the Champions Tennis League here on Tuesday.
The bandwagon now moves to Chennai.
When the 25-year-old former junior French Open winner took the court, her team had lost the first set – legend’s singles – 3-5. On the other side of the net was a player who had won the last major of the year. Not only did Cornet take Flavia Pennetta head on, she beat the Italian at her own game by displaying power and precision in equal measure. So stunning was Cornet’s approach that she subdued the 33-year-old journeywoman at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association Stadium.
Yes, Pennetta looked anything but the player who triumphed at Flushing Meadows this year. The set began in utterly uncharacteristic fashion, with the ladies trading breaks. Cornet restored order by taking a 3-2 lead before breaking Pennetta again. She never lost her poise and took the set 5-2 with a forehand winner.
Cornet then partnered Roberto Bautista Agut and the duo stormed past Pennetta and Santiago Giraldo. The highlight of the set was a brilliant rally, the centrepiece of which was Cornet. Haring her way from the baseline to net, she threw her racquet at everything, only to trip in the end. That was the best Mumbai could muster up. Agut duly held serve and Raipur took the set 5-3.
Agut then joined hands with Ramkumar Ramanathan, who kept himself busy, often screeching to add extra meat to his powerful forehands, besides serving well. His counterpart, Sriram Balaji, was clearly off-colour. And with Giraldo failing to find his range, the Mumbai duo went down 2-5 to give the visitors an unassailable 18-12 lead.
By the time the fifth rubber began, the fans had started to trickle out of the venue. Expectedly, Agut thrashed Giraldo 5-2 to complete the rout.
Earlier, Richard Krajicek put on a master class against Thomas Muster. Krajicek took off from where he had left against Greg Rusedski on Monday, firing aces at will. He also took a leaf out of Roger Federer’s book, unleashing the much-publicised ‘sneak attack’ on Muster’s weak second serve. Krajicek egged the crowd on, and they obliged him gleefully. The Dutchman served four consecutive aces to open up a 3-1 lead, and by the time Muster upped his level, it was too late. Muster’s team, however, more than made up for his loss.
The Results: Raipur Rangers beat Mumbai Tennis Masters 23-14
Legend’s Singles: Richard Krajicek (MTM) beat Thomas Muster (RR) 5-3; Women’s Singles: Alize Cornet (RR) beat Flavia Pennetta (MTM) 5-2; Mixed Doubles: Roberto Bautista Agut/Alize Cornet (RR) beat Santiago Giraldo/Flavia Pennetta 5-3; Men’s Doubles: Roberto Bautista Agut/Ramkumar Ramanathan (RR) beat Santiago Giraldo/Sriram Balaji (MTM) 5-2; Men’s Singles: Roberto Bautista Agut (RR) beat Santiago Giraldo 5-2.
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