CHANDIGARH, NOV 27 : Hosts Punjab Marshalls swept the first home tie against Raipur Rangers in possibly the most exciting tie of the Champions Tennis League so far in Group A first leg of double leg Robin League. The Marshalls clinched the tie by 23 games to 15 in a tie that went into ‘overtime’, in which Marcos Baghdatis won the last game to seal the deal at the Sector 10 Tennis Sports Complex here edged on by a voracious crowd on Friday night.
This victory has broken the home-team jinx that has plagued the Champions Tennis League teams till now. Mumbai Tennis Masters lost their home matches in Mumbai, while V Chennai Warriors came agonisingly close to a victory but failed in Chennai on Thursday.
Punjab was leading 22-15 after the end of the last set that was won by Rangers’ Roberto Bautista Agut. Since rules of the league requires the team leading (in terms of games) to win the final game, the match went into overtime.
Punjab Marshalls captain Greg Rusedski gave the Chandigarh franchise an head start with a 5-2 win against former World No.1 Thomas Muster of Raipur Rangers in the legends singles set. Rusedski, who is a part of Punjab Marshalls for the second time, looked fitter and comfortable with his shots as he broke his Austrian rival twice to get the Chandigarh crowd all cheered up.
In the women’s singles set, WTA rising star Elina Svitolina gave Marshalls a massive lead by beating her rival on professional tour, Alize Cornet of Raipur Rangers 5-1. The world No.19 Ukrainian was in the zone with great shots and crisp serves.
Going into the next set – the mixed doubles set—Punjab were sitting pretty with a 10-3 overall lead. Since tie winners are decided primarily on the basis of which team wins the maximum games in a tie (as opposed to sets), this was a crucial lead.
Raipur Rangers clawed back in the next set with Alize teaming up with Roberto Bautista Agut while Elina was joined on court by Marcos Baghdatis. The Rangers looked in no mood to give in to the magic of Marcos-Elina, and troubled the Marshalls player with their tricky shots.
The set went into tie-breaker at 4-4, and Alize-Agut used the slow courts of CLTA to their advantage with a 5-2 win in the tie-breaker and a 5-4 victory in the set. Marshalls were still leading 14 games to 8! A lead that Baghdatis and Saketh Myneni increased to 19-10 with a 5-2 win over Agut-Ramkumar Ramanathan in men’s doubles.
This is Punjab Marshalls’ first home tie in this seasons’ Champions Tennis League. They play Mumbai Tennis Masters on November 28 in another crucial tie. Marshalls has an advantage over Mumbai, having defeated them 21-19 in the first tie in Mumbai, in which Marcos Baghdatis’ stellar performance had become Punjab’s trump card.
Results: Greg Rusedski bt Thomas Muster 5-2, Elina Svitolina bt Alize Cornet 5-2, Elina Svitolina/Marcos Baghdatis lost to Alize Cornet/Roberto Bautista Agut 4-5, Baghdatis/Saketh Myneni bt Agut/Ramkumar Ramanathan 5-2, Baghdatis lost to Agut but won in overtime.
Overall score: Punjab Marshalls beat Raipur Rangers 23-15