There was lot at stake. It was a must-win second Champions Tennis League tie for Wave Punjab Marshalls and Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters as both teams had lost their first matches to Ironkill Delhi Dreams.
It was pretty much a reversal of roles for Mumbai’s Tommy Robredo, who ensured the second match was in their bag with a clinical fifth and final set win over India’s top-ranked men’s singles player Somdev Devvarman in Chandigarh.
Robredo exuded confidence
The Punjab outfit may have had the animated home crowd rooting for them in extremely chilly conditions, but it did little to unsettle Robredo, who had lost the deciding set to Ironkill Delhi Dreams’ Kevin Anderson a couple of days back.
The Spanish world number 17 oozed supreme confidence from the start, spraying fierce forehand winners all over the court, forcing errors from Somdev.
In fact, Robredo’s potent forehand was too hot to handle for the Indian and when the latter tried to approach the net, it did not work out as the Spanish player kept tormenting him with razor-sharp passing shots.
Robredo appeared to be in a tearing hurry to wrap up the match – he breached Somdev’s serve in the second game to race away to a 3-0 lead. The Indian struggled to get into the contest as the Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters’ player broke his serve again in the fifth game before serving for the set at 6-1 to script a splendid 27-21 win and ensure his team harboured hopes of making it to the November 26 final.
The Mumbai side called the shots from the start with Sergi Bruguera of Spain sneaking past India’s Leander Paes 6-5 in the tie-break of the legends’ match.
The two-time French Open winner, who looked off-colour in the opening game against Ironkill Delhi Dreams, served with purpose and moved well on the court to close out the first set, handing the Mumbai team an early advantage.
It seemed like one-way traffic for Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters when the pair of Tommy Robredo and Alize Cornet dominated the mixed doubles set, rattling up a 4-0 lead. Wave Punjab Marshalls did fight back to narrow down the scoreline to 5-3 before the Mumbai side clinched the set at 6-3 to take a 12-8 lead.
At this juncture, the Punjab supporters must have been overcome with disappointment. But Garbine Muguruza showed her side had a lot of fight still left in them as she outwitted Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters’ Alize Cornet, which was perhaps the match of the evening.
It was a battle of attrition as both players held serve in the first four games before Cornet and Garbine found it hard to hold their serve. The contest witnessed four service breaks on the trot besides a slew of exciting rallies, before it was stretched into tie-break.
Garbine was determined to keep her side in the contest, wresting the initiative and romping home 5-2 in the tie-break as Wave Punjab Marshalls was breathing down Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters’ neck with the scoreline reading 17-14 in favour of the visiting side.
The third set win suddenly brought about an extra spring in the strides of Wave Punjab Marshalls, who looked more assured in the men’s doubles. The duo of Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman were going neck and neck against the pair of Tommy Robredo and N Sriram Balaji.
But it was the tenth game, which saw the Punjab side pull through as they broke Balaji’s serve to win the set at 6-4 as the contest was intriguing poised at 21-20 in favour of Ironkill Mumbai Tennis Masters.
However, Robredo brushed aside any aspirations of Wave Punjab Marshalls turning it into a down-to-the-wire contest, reducing the decider into a no-contest as Mumbai racked up a 27-21 victory.
Originally published on the Champions Tennis League website here.Published 21 Nov 2014, 22:50 IST