Day one of the 2015 Champions Tennis League started with a bang, as the Mumbai Tennis Masters and the Punjab Marshalls put up an electrifying contest to enthrall spectators everywhere. It was a see-saw affair in which the Marshalls were put on the backfoot early, but Marcos Baghdatis and Co. clawed their way back into the match with some spirited play to steal the tie by the narrow scoreline of 21-19.
Here is how each of the matches in the tie unfolded:
1. Legends singles: Richard Krajicek vs Greg Rusedski
The opening match of Season 2 saw legends Richard Krajicek and Greg Rusedski square off against one another. Both players won each of their opening two service games before Krajicek broke the Rusedski serve in the fifth game to take an important lead in the contest.
But Rusedski showed plenty of gumption to fight back and get his first break in the very next game, equalising the score at 3-3. Rusedski then used his mammoth serve to edge ahead with a 4-3 lead, but the Dutchman wouldn't back down, holding serve to make it 4-4 and take the match to a nine-point tie-breaker.
After beginning erratically, it was the 1996 Wimbledon champion who assumed control of the breaker and he clinched the set 5-4 to give his side an early lead.
Result: Krajicek def. Rusedski 5-4
2. Women’s singles: Flavia Pennetta vs Elina Svitolina
After winning the opening set, Mumbai's momentum was carried forward by Pennetta into the second too. The reigning US Open champion got an early break to take a 1-0 lead, putting more pressure on the Marshalls. But Svitolina broke back immediately to make it 1-1.
The Masters got the break once again in the third game and then Pennetta further strengthened the lead to make it 3-1 for her side. Svitolina refused to throw in the towel as she held serve to reduce the deficit, but Pennetta continued to remain solid on her serve, holding for 4-2.
The Italian then took the set by getting the third break of the set to make it 5-2 and give the Masters a seemingly decisive lead in the tie.
Result: Pennetta def. Svitolina 5-2
3. Mixed doubles: Giraldo/Pennetta vs Baghdatis/Svitolina
It was the Marshalls’ pair of Baghdatis and Svitolina that served to start the set, and they put in a confident game to get on the scoreboard. The Mumbai Tennis Masters on their part started confidently too, holding serve and putting pressure on the Marshalls.
But Baghdatis and Svitolina were on their game tonight, as they took the lead again with another impressive hold. The Mumbai Tennis Masters refused to blink, and Giraldo and Pennetta unfurled a series of powerful groundstrokes to level the score once again.
The Marshalls would not be denied on their serve though, and after holding for 3-2 they made the crucial move by breaking the Masters’ serve to go 4-2 up. Baghdatis then almly served out the set to register the Marshalls’ first win of the tie, reducing the overall games deficit in the process too.
Result: Baghdatis/Svitolina def. Giraldo/Pennetta 5-2
4. Men’s doubles: Baghdatis/Myneni vs Giraldo/Balaji
After a morale-boosting win in the third set, the doubles duo for the Marshalls, Marcos Baghdatis and Saketh Myneni, continued to carry forward the momentum into Set 4. They broke the Mumbai Tennis Masters duo of Giraldo and Balaji as early as the third game to take a 2-1 lead.
The Indo-Cypriot pair maintained that the lead right through to seal the fourth set 5-3 and make it two sets apiece.
Result: Baghdatis/Myneni def. Giraldo/Balaji 5-3
5. Men’s singles: Marcos Baghdatis vs Santiago Giraldo
The fifth and final set proved to be yet another tight affair with both players refusing to yield an inch. The Marshalls led the Masters by just one point before the set began – 16 games to 15 – and the tension in the final set was starkly evident.
Baghdatis had some nervy moments but he overcame them with his powerful shot-making, and he eventually managed to take the contest to the tie-breaker. With the crowd roaring and the pressure thoroughly visible on both players’ faces, the Cypriot prevailed to clinch the final set 5-4 and hand his side a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Result: Baghdatis def. Giraldo 5-4Published 23 Nov 2015, 22:37 IST