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CTL 2015: Punjab Marshalls too strong for Raipur Rangers, move to top of the group

ANALYST
Modified 27 Nov 2015, 22:43 IST
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Marcos Baghdatis was once again crucial in the Punjab Marshalls’ win

After the double header in Chennai, it's Punjab's turn to play host to two teams in succession. And the first of those teams was the formidable Raipur Rangers, who had demolished Mumbai Tennis Masters earlier in the week.

But the presence of Marcos Baghdatis in the Punjab Marshalls’ line-up was always going to be a huge advantage for the home team. And in the end the Cypriot made a telling difference, as his side overcame the Raipur challenge to climb to the top of the table.

Here's a look at how each of the sets transpired:

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

The opening set between the two legends saw both players win each of their opening service games. But it was Rusedski who broke first in the 4th game for a 3-1 lead, taking advantage of a series of unforced errors from the Austrian.

But Muster fought back immediately to get a break of his own and make the score 2-3. His joy was short-lived though as the British southpaw got his second break of serve of the set in the very next game and then sealed the set 5-2 to give his side a 1-0 lead.

Result: Rusedski def. Muster 5-2

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

It was Svitolina who took the opening game by breaking the Cornet serve, before further strengthening her lead to make it 2-0 in her favour. She then produced a flurry of powerful forehands to notch up a second break of serve in the third game, to put herself in a commanding position.

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The Frenchwoman wasn't about to go away without a fight though, and she came back to break the Svitolina serve in the very next game to make it 1-3. But the Ukrainian made it three breaks out of three games immediately, despite being 40-0 down, to take a 4-1 lead.

Svitolina then served out the set to give the Marshalls a huge lead in the tie.

Result: Svitolina def. Cornet 5-1

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

The third set saw the men's singles players in action for the first time, and both Baghdatis and Bautista Agut did their best to give a fine account of themselves.

The home team gain the early advantage, as they took the first game of the set, but the two teams were too closely matched for a big lead to materialize for either side. Back-and-forth action followed that first game, and the pairs were tied at 3-3 as the crowd raised their volume.

But the Raipur team, determined not to lose three straight sets, put on a spirited show to ultimately take the set by a hair's breadth.

Result: Cornet/Bautista Agut def. Svitolina/Baghdatis 5-4

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

The penultimate set of the day seemed one-sided initially, as Baghdatis/Myneni took the first two games. But the visitors clawed themselves back into the set and the scoreboard read 3-2 in the Marshalls’ favour after five games.

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That was the closest Rangers would get though, as Saketh Myneni’s explosive power helped open up the court repeatedly. That, combined with Baghdatis’ customary use of clever angles and changes in direction, ultimately gave Punjab the set by a comfortable margin.

Result: Baghdatis/Myneni def. Bautista Agut/Ramanathan 5-2

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

Trailing far behind at 19-10, the Rangers needed a miracle (or a player like Fernando Verdasco) to come back into the contest. Unfortunately for them, that miracle never came.

The set was evenly matched at 2-2 when Baghdatis broke his younger opponent to lead 3-2. Bautista Agut then raised the tempo, breaking Baghdatis twice to lead 4-3. The Spaniard seemed to be channelling his compatriot Verdasco, as he powered his way to 5-3, winning the set and forcing a tie-break.

But Baghdatis needed just one game to take the match and he did just that, using the court well to outsmart Bautista Agut, who relied heavily on speed and power.

Result: Bautista Agut def. Baghdatis 5-4

Overall score: Punjab Marshalls beat Raipur Rangers 23-15

Published 27 Nov 2015, 21:21 IST
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