" In reply, Australia chased down the target with ease, reaching home with seven wickets…
Mumbai Tennis Masters suffered a dramatic late collapse as they surrendered a 10-6 lead to go down 19-21 to Punjab Marshalls in the inaugural game of the Champions Tennis League at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) stadium, Churchgate, on Monday.
With not many turning up to cheer either side in the evening, it was Marshalls’ Marcos Baghdatis, who was the star of the night for the away side. The 30-year-old Cypriot playing a winning role in each of the three sets he played.
But the first two sets painted a different story with the home side winning 5-4 in the legend’s singles. Mumbai’s Richard Krajicek prevailed over Greg Rudeski in the battle of the veterans. For the few tennis purists at the MSLTA, the two legends provided a great showing of drop shots and slices with both choosing to play it safe from the baselines. With the pair smashing aces well above the 190 miles per hour mark, one did fear for the ball boys at the tramlines.
The second set, too, seemed to be heading away from Punjab’s grasp as Flavia Pennetta, the 2015 US Open champion, stole the march over Elina Svitolina in the women’s singles. The 33-year-old didn’t disappoint the home crowd, easily sailing past the Ukranian with her experience proving too much for the 21-year-old as the wrapped up the second set 5-2.
It was at 10-6 when Baghdatis entered the game partnering Svitolina in the mixed doubles. The duo produced a fine show of complementary styles with Baghdatis controlling the proceedings from the baseline while Svitolina took care of things near the net. The result saw the away side reduce a four-point deficit to a single point with a 5-2 win over Santiago Giraldo and Pennetta.
With three sets played, it was then time for the domestic players to come into the action.
The win in the previous set seemed to have given Baghdatis, finalist at the 2006 Australian Open, a new found gear. His forehand winners accompanied by Myneni’s brilliant net play saw the duo give the away side a one-point lead with a 5-3 win going into the final set.
Fatigue clearly showed on the faces of Giraldo and Baghdatis who were each playing their third consecutive set. Baghdatis, having played a part in his side’s two wins in the previous two sets, looked the calmer of the two and a man possessed. Giraldo, on the other hand, seemed to be trying too hard to impress the home fans with many of his baseline forehands landing on the other side. With neither of the two failing to break the other’s serve, it was Baghdatis, who prevailed 5-3 in the tiebreaker to win the men’s doubles 5-4 and open his side’s account in the tournament with a 21-19 win over Mumbai.
Mumbai Tennis Masters lost to Punjab Marshalls 19-21
Legend’s singles: Richard Krajicek (Mumbai) bt Greg Rudeski (Punjab) 5-4
Women’s singles: Flavia Pennetta (Mumbai) bt Elina Svitolina (Punjab) 5-2
Mixed doubles: Santiago Giraldo/Flavia Pennetta lost to Marcos Baghdatis/Elina Svitolina (Punjab) 2-5
Mixed doubles: Santiago Giraldo/Sriram Balaji (Mumbai) lost to Marcos Baghdatis/Saketh Myneni (Punjab) 3-5
Men’s doubles: Santiago Giraldo lost to Marcos Baghdatis (Punjab) 4-5
Playing today: Mumbai Tennis Masters vs Punjab Marshals (Live on Sony Six at 7:00 pm)