The Mumbai Tennis Masters were desperate for a win after two straight losses, but faced with the formidable Raipur Rangers, the visitors were always going to have a demanding ask.
Ultimately, the depth of the Raipur squad proved too tough to handle for the Mumbai players. Flavia Pennetta’s injury didn’t help matters, and Raipur ended up winning the tie on a canter.
Here's a blow-by-blow breakdown of how the evening unraveled:
1. Legends’ singles: Thomas Muster (Raipur) vs Richard Krajicek (Mumbai)
Krajicek would claim the first game, but Muster came back to equalize 1-1. The Dutchman, who famously defeated Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 1996, then held serve again to make it 2-1.
But he would falter soon after, coughing up double faults to give the Austrian “King of Clay” the advantage. Muster capitalized strongly on Krajicek’s errors to take the set 5-3.
Result: Muster def. Krajicek 5-3
2. Women’s singles: Alize Cornet (Raipur) vs Flavia Pennetta (Mumbai)
The second set saw the 2015 US Open champion, Flavia Pennetta, gain the early edge and win two games on the trot. But Cornet rallied to come back into the set, breaking serve to bring the score to 2-3.
What followed was a bit of a shocker, as Pennetta completely lost the range on her groundstrokes and Cornet started finding the corners with remarkable consistency. The Frenchwoman won the set 5-3 in fluent fashion, showing us glimpses of the player who defeated world number 1 Serena Williams thrice in 2014.
As it transpired later, Pennetta was carrying a niggle in the set which would force her to pull out from the mixed doubles.
Result: Cornet def. Pennetta 5-3
3. Mixed doubles: Cornet/Bautista-Agut (Raipur) vs Vasylyeva/Giraldo (Mumbai)
With Pennetta withdrawing from the set, her place was taken by Ukrainian youngster Anastasiya Vasylyeva. That instantly put the Mumbai team on the backfoot, but they produced a spirited showing even without their marquee player.
All four internationals would stay on par with each other until the score was tied 2-2. Bautista Agut then placed a couple of choice shots beyond either of the Mumbai Masters players and helped his side take a 4-3 lead – one game away from victory.
But Mumbai wouldn’t give up and they forced a tie-break, all thanks to Vasylyeva’s brilliant net skills. In the tiebreaker though Raipur proved too steady, and they won the set 5-4.
Result: Cornet/Bautista-Agut def. Vasylyeva/Giraldo 5-4
4. Men’s doubles: Bautista-Agut/Ramanathan (Raipur) vs Giraldo/Balaji (Mumbai)
The penultimate set of the match saw both teams level with each other at one point. But the deadlock was broken soon as Raipur broke to lead 4-2, taking themselves closer to the finish line.
Mumbai would win another game, but that would be their last of the set. The duo of Bautista-Agut and Ramanathan continued to pressure the opposition and won the set 5-3.
Result: Bautista-Agut/Ramanathan def. Giraldo/Balaji 5-3
5. Men’s singles: Roberto Bautista-Agut (Raipur) vs Santiago Giraldo (Mumbai)
Up 20-13, Raipur looked like they would cruise to a win. And the experienced Spaniard Bautista-Agut played like it, flooring the pedal from the word ‘go’ and racing away to a 4-1 lead.
But pressure brought out the best in the Colombian Giraldo, as he closed the deficit to 2-4. Eventually though Bautista-Agut turned it up a notch and took the next game and with it, the match.
Result: Bautista-Agut def. Giraldo 5-2
Overall result: Raipur Rangers def. Mumbai Tennis Masters 25-16