The V Chennai Warriors arrived in Hyderabad looking for their first victory in the CTL, but as expected, the home team proved to be too strong an opposition. With intimidating players like Martina Hingis and Ivo Karlovic on their roster, the Hyderabad Aces were always going to be the favourites in this tie, and that's how things unfolded too.
Here's a look at how each of the sets panned out:
1. Legends’ singles: Thomas Johansson (Hyderabad) vs Rainer Schuettler (Chennai)
The captains of both teams stepped on to the court for the first contest of the evening, hoping to get their team off to a good start. Schuettler won the first game of the evening, but Johansson came back strong to break him and lead 4-2.
Schuettler committed a few double faults and made more than a few unforced errors which cost him big time, but he did try to mount a comeback by winning a game and bringing the score to 4-3. Johansson would have none of it though, and he calmly won the next game to pocket the first set 5-3.
Result: Johansson def. Schuettler 5-3
2. Women’s singles: Martina Hingis (Hyderabad) vs Heather Watson (Chennai)
The more experienced Hingis came speeding off the blocks as she won the first two games, much to the delight of the packed crowd. But Watson would get into her stride soon and she clawed back a couple of games to equalize the set at 2-2.
The Brit couldn’t keep up her momentum though, and she got broken by the Swiss Miss again to fall into a big hole. Hingis refused to let up, using her superb court vision to place shots with incredible precision and win the set 5-2.
Result: Hingis (Hyderabad) def. Watson (Chennai) 5-2
3. Mixed doubles: Hingis/Karlovic (Hyderabad) vs Watson/Verdasco (Chennai)
With Hyderabad leading 10-5, Chennai desperately needed to win this set if they were to have any chance of getting back in the game. But that wasn’t to be, as Hingis and Karlovic were a well-oiled machine and had a slight edge over the visitors.
The standout of the set was Karlovic, who was much more participative and proactive compared to yesterday’s match, where he seemed content to let Hingis call the shots. After the scores were level 2-2, Chennai fought back hard to lead 4-3.
But Hyderabad kept their cool and forced a tie-break, which they won to increase their lead to six games at 15-9.
Result: Hingis/Karlovic (Hyderabad) def. Watson/Verdasco (Chennai) 5-4
4. Men’s doubles: Karlovic/Neduncheziyan (Hyderabad) vs Verdasco/Vardhan (Chennai)
The penultimate set of the day was a display of some really powerful shot-making from both ends of the court. Hyderabad, riding on the titanic Karlovic serve would come from behind to lead 2-1, but Chennai equalized soon.
More see-saw action would follow as Chennai would lead 4-3, after which Hyderabad did well to force a tie-break. Ultimately, Karlovic’s monstrous serves proved too hot hot to handle, and he helped close out the set in favour of Hyderabad.
Result: Karlovic/Neduncheziyan def. Verdasco/Vardhan 5-4
5. Men’s singles: Ivo Karlovic (Hyderabad) vs Fernando Verdasco (Chennai)
The last set of the match seemed a formality as Hyderabad were far ahead at 20-13. Karlovic’s break-neck serves earned him an early lead, but Verdasco took advantage of his superior mobility and equalized at 3-3.
After Karlovic won the next game to lead 4-3 Verdasco showed great heart to perform strongly under pressure, and he ultimately forced a tie-break.
Chennai fans dared to hope that Verdasco would repeat his performance against Feliciano Lopez or even better it, and that’s what he almost did! After winning the tiebreaker he won the overtime game to make it 6-4 in his favour, and it seemed like he was gaining steam.
But Karlovic would hold his nerve in the super-tiebreak, blocking out the crowd's roars to clinch it and with it, the tie.
Result: Verdasco (Chennai) def. Karlovic (Hyderabad) 6-5