The Wave Punjab Marshalls needed to win this tie in order to keep their chances alive in the CTL. Right before their tie against Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters on Thursday, they suffered a huge setback when their captain Greg Rusedski was forced to pull out because of an injury to his leg.
Leander Paes stepped into the captain’s shoes but in spite of his best efforts, Punjab were unable to surmount Mumbai’s game, bowing down 19 games to 25.
But the Marshalls are a team of fighters, and they remain confident about their chances in the event. And their victory over Ironkill Delhi Dreams today proves just that. Here’s a look at how things went during the tie:
Legends’ singles: Rust comes in the way for Punjab
Paes played the first match of the day against Juan Carlos Ferrero. In recent years, everyone has been accustomed to watching the 41-year-old play doubles, hanging around the net with hawk-like eyes ready to cut off any ball back into the other team’s side. But singles is a different ball game altogether, and Ferrero’s greater experience in this format showed.
A strong start was what Punjab needed and Paes provided it the best that he could. Despite his rustiness on the singles front – he forced the first set into the tie-break. The breaker, however, was rather one-sided as Ferrero raced away, building a solid lead over the Indian. He eventually prevailed 5-2 in the tie-break and took the set 6-5 to give Delhi an early lead.
Mixed doubles: Paes and Muguruza carry over their confidence from the previous tie
Garbine Muguruza and Leander Paes next went up against Jelena Jankovic and Kevin Anderson in the second set. In the first leg of the tie between Punjab and Delhi, the Indo-Spanish pair had won comfortably over the South African-Serbian duo, which no doubt gave them a fair bit of confidence going into this encounter.
The Punjab team received an early breakthrough when they broke Delhi in the second game of the set, before consolidating it with ease. Paes and Mguruza then raced away, stretching the lead to 5-0 after breaking Delhi’s serve again in the fourth game. Soon after that, they had won the set comfortably 6-1, putting Punjab ahead firmly with 11 games to Delhi’s 7.
Women’s singles: topsy-turvy match ends in Spaniard’s favour
Muguruza had her chances against Jankovic in her first match on Monday, but she wasn’t able to capitalise on them. This time again, the Spaniard broke Jankovic early in the set before holding her own serve despite some advances from the Serb.
Jankovic looked to be struggling with her back throughout the set, with the cold conditions adding to her to troubles. But Muguruza wasn’t able to hold on to her lead and allowed Jankovic to break back in the fifth game. The topsy-turvy nature of the set continued as the Spaniard broke Jankovic yet again – to love – before going on to holding her serve to go up 5-2, only to be broken again in the ninth game.
Jankovic held her serve to take the set to the tie-break which Muguruza won without much ado to put Punjab at 17 games, five ahead of Delhi’s total.
Men’s doubles: Paes leads the charge
Punjab started off solidly, holding in their opening service game, breaking on the deciding point of the second game and consolidating the break in the third. Paes was especially very forceful, taking charge of his team and putting them ahead by miles in comparison to Delhi, which looked like a sluggish outfit.
Punjab never looked to be in any trouble and the Indo-South African team, despite their best efforts, couldn’t offer much resistance to the all-Indian pair. Paes and Somdev Devvarman ensured an easy victory for Punjab in the end, taking the set 6-3 and the lead to 23 games to 15.
Men’s singles: Devvarman finishes it off in style
Devvarman didn’t exactly need to win this set to give Punjab its first victory, but he did need to keep the score relatively close. The fifth set didn’t start on a strong note for Punjab with him being broken in the first game of the set. The Indian, however, broke the South African in the next game and continued to hold the momentum he had secured to carry him through the set and win it in commanding fashion.
The final score read 6-3, and an elated Devvarman was immediately surrounded by his teammates the moment Punjab’s victory was confirmed.
Key match stats
Wave Punjab Marshalls won over Ironkill Delhi Dreams with an overall lead of 29 games to 18. This was one of the most dominating wins in the tournament so far, with Punjab winning four of the five sets. But Delhi still leads the points table in the North Zone, with 70 games to Punjab’s 69 games.
Originally published on the Champions Tennis League website here.