Day 4 of the 2015 Champions Tennis League will see the V Chennai Warriors play their second home game, this time against the debutants of the season, the Nagpur Orangers.
The tie will be played at the SDAT Tennis Stadium as usual, and the Chennai crowd will try their best to cheer their team to a win. But that won't be easy, since the home team are pitted against possibly the strongest squad in the CTL this year.
Here’s a look at what we can expect from the contest:
1. Legends' singles: Rainer Schuttler vs Alex Corretja
Schuttler, who is playing his second season of the CTL, will look to give Chennai a good start when he faces off against Alex Corretja of Spain, who will be making his debut appearance in the tournament.
Both players featured in the top 5 of the rankings during their glory days, with Corretja even reaching as high as number 2 at one point. They were both Grand Slam finalists too, with Schuttler finishing as the runner-up at the 2003 Australian Open and Corretja twice falling at the last hurdle of the French Open – in 1998 and 2001.
As can be inferred from their best Slam results, Corretja has always been more comfortable on clay and the slower surfaces, while Schuttler has been more of a fast-court expert. It will be an interesting clash of styles in Chennai tomorrow, but considering the speed of the court, Corretja may have the edge.
2. Women’s singles: Heather Watson vs Jelena Jankovic
The 23-year-old Heather Watson of Chennai Warriors will have her task cut out when she takes on former World No. 1 and 2008 US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic in the women’s singles tie on Thursday.
Watson is currently ranked 62nd in the world and is also the British No. 2, but she hasn't achieved a lot of success in the big tournaments thus far in her career. Jankovic, on the other hand, is a true-blue veteran of the WTA tour, having reached numerous Slam quarterfinals and semifinals, and also winning plenty of Premier tournaments.
Watson's youth, speed and court smarts could well pose the Serb a couple of tough questions, but Jankovic's experience gives her a distinct edge.
3. Men’s singles: Fernando Verdasco vs Feliciano Lopez
This promises to be the most exciting contest of the day as two experienced Spaniards – Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco – will lock horns in the men’s singles set. These two players have had excellent singles careers so far, and have even been Davis Cup teammates in several successful campaigns for Spain.
Verdasco and Lopez have met each another on eight occasions during various stages of their career, with each of them winning times. But interestingly, on hardcourts, it is Verdasco who holds the upper hand, having four out of the five matches on that surface.
It will be a battle that pits Lopez's mammoth serve against Verdasco's devastating forehand, and Lopez's sharp volleys against Verdasco's power from the baseline. On current form Lopez holds the edge for his Nagpur side, but Verdasco on his day can take down any opponent with his potent shot-making.
4. Mixed doubles: Verdasco/Watson vs Lopez/ Jankovic
Verdasco has in the past fared well in the doubles as well, having helped Spain clinch Davis Cup ties in 2008 and 2009. He will partner Watson for Chennai and take on the pairing of Lopez and Jankovic, who are no slouches in doubles either.
While Lopez is always a threat with his nifty volleying skills, Jankovic is surprisingly good in doubles as well, having won the mixed doubles crown with Jamie Murray at Wimbledon in 2007.
This promises to be a thoroughly entertaining affair, and it's hard to predict which team would start as the favourites.
5. Men’s doubles: Verdasco/Vardhan vs Lopez/Sharan
The men’s doubles set will see the homegrown players take centre-stage, as Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Sharan look to earn bragging rights as the cream of the Indian tennis talent. Notably, it will be an Indo-Spanish pair taking on another Indo-Spanish pair in this set.
While Lopez and Verdasco will bring all their experience to the court, it will be interesting to see which of the two Indians gives a better account of himself. Sharan at No. 131 is ranked much higher in doubles than Vardhan at No. 483, but the numbers won't matter much when it comes down to the heat of the battle.
Lopez and Sharan will start as the favourites in this set, but Verdasco and Vardhan certainly have the potential to create an upset.