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CTL 2015: Punjab Marshalls edge past Raipur Rangers despite Baghdatis' illness, sail through to the finals

ANALYST
Modified 02 Dec 2015, 22:57 IST
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Baghdatis faltered for the first time in the 2015 CTL, but Punjab found other heroes to still win

The Raipur Rangers were determined to avenge their loss to Punjab in the away leg, and arrest the Marshalls’ unbeaten run in the tournament so far. But that was not to be, as the Marcos Baghdatis-led team continued their winning momentum despite their star player being unwell.

By squeaking past the home team, Punjab have confirmed their berth in Sunday's finals, which means Baghdatis will have a chance to lift the trophy for the second year in a row.

Here’s a look back at the evening’s matches:

Legends’ singles: Thomas Muster (Raipur) vs Greg Rusedski (Punjab)

Both captains stepped on the court for the first set of the evening looking to get their team off to a good start. Thomas Muster would win the first game in fluent fashion but Rusedski held firm on his serve, levelling at 1-1.

The Brit took over the reins soon after that, displaying impeccable timing and accuracy to overpower his opponent and win the set at a canter.

Result: Rusedski def. Muster 5-2

2. Women’s singles: Alize Cornet (Raipur) vs Elina Svitolina (Punjab)

Svitolina was the favourite coming into the match and she certainly played like it, leading 3-1. Cornet would rally bravely to come back into the match at 3-4, but the Ukrainian would not be pegged down for too long.

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Using her powerful groundstrokes to push Cornet back and elicit errors, Svitolina soon took the set to give her team a commanding lead in the tie.

Result: Svitolina def. Cornet 5-3

3. Mixed doubles: Cornet/Bautista-Agut (Raipur) vs Svitolina/Baghdatis (Punjab)

Bautista-Agut would prove the difference-maker in this tie as he stepped on to the court for the first time and made his presence felt from his very first shot. The hosts would lead 2-0 before Punjab won a game to get on the board.

But Bautista-Agut and Cornet were irresistible as they raced to take the set 5-1, taking full advantage of the fact that Baghdatis was off-colour. But despite the loss, Punjab still lead, although by a sliver, at 11-10.

Result: Cornet/Bautista-Agut def. Svitolina/Baghdatis 5-1

4. Men’s doubles: Bautista-Agut/Ramanathan (Raipur) vs Baghdatis/Myneni (Punjab)

The rumour that Baghdatis was feeling under the weather was were confirmed when the entire stadium saw sluggish movement on the court in the penultimate match. But where the crafty veteran missed, the No.1 Indian player hit, as Myneni helped the visitors level the set at 2-2.

Raipur won another game to equalize the overall score at 13-13. But Punjab, riding on the mammoth Myneni serve, would give no further quarter and ran away with the set 5-3.

Result: Baghdatis/Myneni def. Bautista-Agut/Ramanathan 5-3

5. Men’s singles: Roberto Bautista-Agut (Raipur) vs Marcos Baghdatis (Punjab)

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Baghdatis’ illness and the wear of the previous games seemed to take their toll on him, as he asked the referee if Saketh Myneni could be substituted for him in the final match. But his opposite number wouldn’t relent, and the Cypriot would take the court with his team ahead 16-13.

Bautista-Agut seemed on course to take the set easily as he swiftly won the first two games, but Baghdatis’ veteran instincts soon came into play. He used the court to stay in the contest, even with the Spaniard leading 4-2. With no snap to his shots, Baghdatis placed his shots surgically, but Bautista-Agut’s pressure would break Baghdatis and he took the set 5-3.

This forced a brief tie-break, where Baghdatis won the solitary game he needed to win the match for his team.

Result: Bautista-Agut (Raipur) def. Baghdatis (Punjab) 5-3

Overall result: Punjab Marshalls def. Raipur Rangers 20-18

Published 02 Dec 2015, 22:10 IST
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