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CTL 2015: Hyderabad Aces and Nagpur Orangers battle for Group B top spot

ANALYST
Modified 29 Nov 2015, 00:06 IST
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Martina Hingis will look to play a pivotal role for the Hyderabad Aces on Sunday

It’s time to focus once more on Group B of the 2015 Champions Tennis League as Hyderabad Aces host Nagpur Orangers at the LalBahadur Stadium on Sunday. Both the teams come into this contest high on confidence after prevailing over V Chennai Warriors in their opening matches at 2015 CTL.

While Hyderabad posted a resounding 25-16 win over the southern team, Nagpur narrowly edged past them for a thrilling 24-23 victory.

How will the sets pan out when these two teams meet? We take a look:

Women’s singles: Martina Hingis vs Jelena Jankovic

At 35 years of age, former World No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis still has the desire to compete at the highest level. One-half of the world’s best women’s doubles pair, the Swiss Miss showed on Wednesday that she is still a force to reckon with even in singles, as she beat the 55th-ranked Heather Watson 5-3.

However, her next opponent comes with a wealth of experience. Jelena Jankovic of the Nagpur Orangers is a former top-ranked player who reached the 2008 US Open final. Known for her effortless movement and silky backhand, the Serb is likely to cause Hingis a few headaches.

Just like the Swiss, Jankovic also comes with some winning momentum after having beaten Watson during the Nagpur Orangers vs V Chennai Warriors tie. The Serb also has the added advantage of a 2-0 head-to-head record over Hingis, and that won’t be music to the Swiss Miss’ears.

Legends singles: Thomas Johansson v Alex Corretja

This is a battle of two baseliners who never met each other during their professional career. Both of them reached elite levels at their peak, with Thomas Johansson capturing the Australian Open in 2002 and Alex Corretja reaching the French Open final twice – in 1998 and 2001.

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Both these former top 10 players moved on to coaching after retirement. While the Swede helms the 44th-ranked Borna Coric, Corretja was a mentor for two-time Major winner Andy Murray.

Based on their form at the CTL, there is little to separate the two as each overcame the same opponent – Rainer Schüttler of the V Chennai Warriors – in a tie-break. Thus, this legends’ showdown has all the ingredients to be an absorbing duel which will probably be decided in the tie-break.

Men’s singles: Ivo Karlovic vs Feliciano Lopez

This should be the most exciting set of the day. Two serve-and-volleyers with mammoth serves and a penchant for fast-paced tennis will look to light up the LalBahadur Stadium.

Ivo Karlovic and Feliciano Lopez have played each other eight times, with the 6’11’’ Croat holding a 5-3 edge. While having a look at their head-to-head record, it is interesting to note that each of their matches have had at least one tie-break. That gives us reason to believe their CTL set too will follow suit.

But it has been the 23rd-ranked Karlovic who has had the upper hand in their rivalry in recent times. He has prevailed in their last three meetings, with the last one being at Memphis in 2014.

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Both Karlovic and Lopez have displayed ample fighting spirit so far, playing a crucial role in their respective team’s wins at this CTL. But when Karlovic’s colossal serve is working, he can push anyone off the court, which is why the holder of over 10,000+ career aces should be the slight favourite in this riveting contest.

Men’s doubles: Karlovic/NedunchezhiyanvsLopez/Sharan

In this set much will depend on how India’s Divij Sharan is able to counter the devastating serve of Ivo Karlovic. Sharan, who reached a career-high ranking of 63 last year, is one of India’s premier doubles players on the circuit and he has two Challenger titles to his name this season.

His partner Lopez is no slouch in doubles either. The Spaniard’s deft touch at the net is an asset to his doubles game and he made it to the Valencia Open final, apart from four other semi-finals this year.

The big-serving Karlovic of the home team can rely upon his partnerJeevanNedunchezhiyan for able support as well. The Indian clinched five ITF Futures doubles titles season along with the Kolkata Challenger and the Indo-Croatian duo should be upbeat about their chances.

Mixed doubles: Karlovic/Hingis vs Lopez/Jankovic

Both these pairings won their sets in their opening ties with consummate ease. The ladies in this contest are the more accomplished players, with Hingis having won three mixed doubles crowns in 2015 while Jelena Jankovic having reigned supreme in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2007.

But with the Swiss Miss being a part of this showdown, it is tough to ignore her presence. She will be the driving force of the Hyderabad team,and probably the player who can be the biggest difference-maker in this set.

The Swiss legend has claimed on multiple occasions that she can adjust her game according to the needs of her partner, and that will be pivotal for her team’s success.

Published 28 Nov 2015, 23:58 IST
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