5 things we learned from the 2015 Champions Tennis League

Greg Rusedski CTL
He may have been retired for 8 years, but Greg Rusedski’s still got game

The 2015 edition of the Champions Tennis League has just concluded, with the Punjab Marshalls, led by British-Canadian legend Greg Rusedski, triumphing over the Hyderabad Aces in a closely contested final.Several retired icons of the sport took centrestage in the league, and with their spirited performances they showed just why they’ve been described as ‘legends’. But the tournament was also a memorable one for the youngsters, who proved that they can match steps with the best in the business.Here are five things to take away from the league:

#1 The legends still have plenty of tennis in them

Greg Rusedski CTL
He may have been retired for 8 years, but Greg Rusedski’s still got game

Retired players who won several laurels in their heyday, the ‘legends’ in the Champions Tennis League may not have been on tour for a number of years. But that didn’t mean they were pushovers by any means.

Thomas Johansson, Greg Rusedski, Alex Corretja – these are all names most tennis enthusiasts will be familiar with, and they unleashed their diverse arsenal of weapons during the course of the league.

Nagpur Orangers’ Legend Corretja, with his solid baseline play, proved just why he was once World No. 2 as he ran through an array of opponents. And the tournament final displayed the immense amount of skill British-Canadian legend Greg Rusedski and his Aces counterpart, Sweden’s Thomas Johansson, still possessed. Not at all out of touch with the skills that earned them several wins on the tour, the two fought a closely contested set.

Richard Krajicek, Rainer Schuettler and Thomas Muster also put in one impressive performance after the other, and left all the spectators spell-bound. The ‘Legends’ certainly lived up to their name this year!

#2 Martina Hingis back to singles glory

Martina Hingis
The Swiss doesn’t Miss! Martina Hingis got back to singles glory this year

Swiss Miss Martina Hingis may have become better known for her doubles exploits of late, and ended the year as the top-ranked player in the category with partner Sania Mirza. But the prodigious skill that helped her win three singles Grand Slams at the age of just 16 still remains intact, and this tournament was the perfect platform for her to relive those glory days.

Although Hingis hasn’t played singles on the professional tour since she came out of retirement, she showed her opponents no mercy; she ran them side-to-side with her clever groundstrokes, and proved just why she’s known as one of the craftiest tennis players of all time. The 35-year-old played opponents far younger than herself but she didn't just match their agility but completely also often outplayed them.

Hingis was just as athletic and nimble, if not more, than her younger counterparts, and her efforts were rewarded when she was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. After seeing this virtuoso display, all that the spectators and tennis enthusiasts can say is that as far as singles is concerned, the Swiss is really Missed!

#3 Marcos Baghdatis is still as fiery as ever

He’s got the game in the Bag(hdatis)! The Cypriot has been inspiring this year

It’s been a while since the 30-year-old Baghdatis made a deep run at a Major, and he's slid way down the rankings too in recent times. Baghdatis is also known for being a hot-headed player, and in 2006 he famously destroyed four racquets during a frustrating loss to Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

The Cypriot was instrumental, however, in the Punjab Marshalls’ victory over the Hyderabad Aces. After using his experience to guide the team to a men’s doubles victory with Saketh Myneni, who had been his teammate the previous year as well, Baghdatis took on an in-form Ivo Karlovic. Fighting neck-and-neck with the big-serving Croat, it was Baghdatis who was the last man standing, as he guided the Marshalls to victory.

It was a feat he’d repeated from 2014, when he led the Pune Marathas to a league win. Clearly, Baghdatis takes to the CTL like a fish to water!

#4 India has immense tennis talent

Saketh Myneni
Indian No. 2 Saketh Myneni once again performed brilliantly

Each team in the league had two Indian players and two juniors, and each of them routinely displayed their talent as the league progressed. India’s No. 2 Saketh Myneni was, in particular, the standout of the tournament. Showcasing his stellar doubles skills, Myneni proved just why he’s one of the best in the game in the country.

Even lesser-ranked players like Divij Sharan and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who have perhaps not had as much success as Myneni has enjoyed on the ATP tour, brought their A-Game through the course of the league. They played their own crucial roles in their sides’ overall performances to near-perfection, occasionally even outplaying their foreign counterparts.

While Sharan was part of the semi-finalists, Nagpur Orangers, both Myneni and Nedunchezhiyan participated in the final. At the end of it all Myneni, for the second year in a row, took the Best Indian Player award – and it wasn't hard to see why.

#5 Indian audiences love tennis!

The enthusiastic crowds attending the CTL

Although tennis is well-supported in India, it does not enjoy the popularity cricket does. However, the league showed just how receptive Indian audiences are to the game, with packed crowds attending the matches in each part of the country – and places one may not necessarily have expected.

Crowds cheered on their home teams, favourite players and celebrated every point as the players took the court, which is highly encouraging for players, teams, and the future of the sport in the country. When relatively smaller cities like Nagpur and Raipur can have such tremendous crowd support, it surely indicates that tennis in India is on the upswing!

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