The first match of the much-awaited Champions Tennis League featuring Ironkill Delhi Dreams and Wave Punjab Marshalls saw some quality action from each side, and inspired plenty of loud cheers from the sell-out Delhi crowd. The home team came out the deserving winners, but here’s an in-depth look at how the tie unfolded:
Legends’ encounter: The ‘Mosquito’ buzzes all over the court
It was a set of contrasting styles first up, with the 34-year-old Juan Carlos Ferrero, former World No. 1 and a sworn baseliner, going up against one-time British top dog Greg Rusedski, who favours the serve-and-volley style of game.
Both players held their opening service games quite comfortably. But in the third game Ferrero, nicknamed ‘The Mosquito’, played aggressively from the baseline and prevented Rusedski from playing his natural game, breaking the Brit’s serve with ease. Two back-to-back double faults in the fifth game followed by an unforced error allowed Ferrero to secure a second break of serve in the fifth game and lead 4-1 in the set.
Within no time, the Spaniard had consolidated the break to lead 5-1. Serving to stay in the set in the seventh game, Rusedski found himself staring down the barrel, and Ferrero capitalised on his opportunity to win the set 6-1 and put Delhi ahead, 1-0.
Mixed doubles: Paes turns on the style
Garbine Muguruza and Leander Paes took on the team of Jelena Jankovic and Kevin Anderson in the second set of the day. The Punjab team served first and as expected the play started on a fast and exhilarating note, with Paes winning his opening service game easily. The Indo-Spanish duo then broke Anderson’s game in the next game to go up 2-0 in the match. A quick consolidation ensured that the Punjab team were up to 3-0 in no time.
Though Jankovic held her nerves and her serve to put Delhi on the scoreboard in the fourth game, Paes and Muguruza continued to hold easily and maintain their lead. Two successive holds by each team gave Paes and Muguruza the chance to bring Punjab level in the tie at 1-1 in the ninth game, which they did comfortably by winning the set 6-3.
Women’s singles: Jankovic brings her vaunted return game to the fore
Jelena Jankovic visibly struggled with her serve in her set against Spain’s Muguruza, and was broken in the very first game. The Serb, who’s still recovering from a back injury, struggled to find her rhythm at the start of the match. Muguruza, on her part, had to battle hard to consolidate the break, but she eventually got the job done to go up 2-0 in the match.
Jankovic broke back Muguruza in the fourth game to level proceedings at 2-2, only to be broken back again immediately. Some quality shot-making from both ladies saw the match finely poised, though repetitive breaks and counter-breaks of serve jarred the momentum.
The ninth game saw Jankovic hold her serve to lead 5-4 in the match, and then Muguruza held herself to take the match into the nine-point tie-break. The Serb used her fine returning and retrieving skills to win that 5-3 and put Delhi ahead yet again in the tie.
Men’s doubles: India’s best are too hot to handle
Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman took on Kevin Anderson and Sanam Singh in the fourth set of the Punjab-Delhi tie. A quick break of serve in the third game by the Punjab team saw them lead 2-1 in the match, but that was followed by a break back which levelled the set at 2-2.
Paes and Devvarman remained patient and broke the Delhi team in the crucial ninth game of the set, eventually serving out the set 6-4 with a quick consolidating hold. The tie was now dead even at 2-2, with everything to play for in the final set.
Men’s singles: The big serve makes the difference
Somdev Devvarman needed to win the set by a difference of at least three games to assure Punjab of a win in the set, against Kevin Anderson. Anderson’s experience prevailed early on as he broke the Indian in the third game of the set, and he went on to consolidate his break with considerable ease. A second break of serve put Anderson firmly in control of the set and the match at 4-1.
There were flashes of occasional brilliance from the Indian but they weren’t enough to stop Anderson, whose big serve ensured that Devvarman never came close to a break. In what seemed like no time, Anderson raced to the finish line, eventually winning the set 6-1 and clinching the tie for Delhi.
Ironkill Delhi Dreams won the match with 25 games to Wave Punjab Marshalls’ 19 games, winning three sets to Punjab’s two. The three singles matches were won by Delhi, while the two doubles matches went into the kitty of Punjab thanks to Leander Paes leading from the front and winning the hearts of the Indian crowd yet again.
Originally published on the Champions Tennis League website here.