The top teams of Group B seemed very evenly matched on paper, with their strengths and weaknesses complementing each other. And the tie between the Hyderabad Aces and the Nagpur Orangers panned out exactly as expected, going right down to the wire.
The Hyderabad crowd were treated to a delightful game of tennis, with crests and troughs to keep them firmly in their seats. Here is how the matches unfolded:
1. Legends’ singles: Thomas Johansson (Hyderabad) vs Alex Corretja (Nagpur)
The evening kicked off with the legends facing each other. Both Johansson and Corretja played like much younger men, dashing all over the court and blasting powerful crosscourt shots.
The set was evenly contested up to 2-2 when Johansson began placing his shots at acute angles, expertly using the court to his advantage. Corretja won another game but Johansson closed out the set 5-3, much to the home crowd’s delight.
Result: Johansson def. Corretja 5-3
2. Women’s singles: Martina Hingis (Hyderabad) vs Jelena Jankovic (Nagpur)
The crowd didn’t have to wait too long to see their marquee player, Martina Hingis, get into action. The Swiss got off to a good start in a battle of former world number ones, winning the first two games. The five-time Major champion seemed like she would dominate the Serb throughout, but the tide turned quickly.
Jankovic came back to equalize 2-2, after which Hingis held to lead by a thread, at 3-2. But Jankovic’s power and backhand would bring her back into it once again and she took the set 5-3, thus equalizing the overall score at 8-8.
Result: Jankovic def. Hingis 5-3
3. Mixed doubles: Hingis/Karlovic (Hyderabad) vs Jankovic/Lopez (Nagpur)
On paper the third set of the match seemed like it could go either way, what with each side having a power server. Karlovic’s aces won multiple games for Hyderabad, but the visitors made use of the fact that the Croatian giant isn’t the quickest around the court as they came back to level.
With the score vacillating until it settled at 4-4, Hingis took charge and unfurled a series of finesse shots, breaking the visitors and winning the set for Hyderabad.
Result: Hingis/Karlovic def. Jankovic/Lopez 5-4
4. Men’s doubles: Karlovic/Neduncheziyan (Hyderabad) vs Lopez/Sharan (Nagpur)
With the score at 13-12 in favour of Hyderabad, the last two sets of the tie would be very crucial. After being tied 2-2 at one point, Lopez and Sharan put on a spectacular show of tennis to outsmart their opponents with ease.
The Nagpur boys defused the Karlovic serve and got the vital break of serve to take the set 5-3 and put Nagpur ahead 17-16.
Result: Lopez/Sharan def. Karlovic/Neduncheziyan 5-3
5. Men’s singles: Ivo Karlovic (Hyderabad) vs Feliciano Lopez (Nagpur)
The match would boil down to the final set – a battle of the big servers. As expected, both relied on their powerful delivery to win games.
Lopez won the first two games, holding serve with ease, and Karlovic did much of the same as he equalize at 2-2. Unsurprisingly, the set stayed its course and went on up to 4-4, which meant a tiebreaker would decide the final set.
In overtime, Lopez used his better mobility to break down the Karlovic serve, thus claiming a thrilling victory for the visitors Nagpur.
Result: Lopez def. Karlovic 5-4
Overall result: Nagpur Orangers def. Hyderabad Aces 22-20