NAGPUR ORANGERS AND V Chennai Warriors will make their debuts in the upcoming edition of the Champions Tennis League (CTL). The new-comers are placed in Group B, which will also feature the Hyderabad Aces.
The Aces have been a part of last year’s CTL and could well be in the driver’s seat early on. Also, the experience of Martina Hingis and Jeevan Nenduchaiyan playing in the previous edition will help the Hyderabad team. Meanwhile, the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Jelena Jankovic too understand the nuances of the league and will bring valuable experience to the Orangers’ squad.
In the Warriors squad, not a single player has been involved in this extravaganza before and that might slow down their progress initially. That said, veteran Fernando Verdasco’s presence will boost their confidence.
Going by the current line-up of players in all the three teams, both Hyderabad and Nagpur look even on paper and there is little to separate the two. As far as Chennai is concerned, there is a clear vacuum in terms of depth and quality. Looking ahead into the highly anticipated tournament, TFG analyses the possible and probable scenarios in Group B.
This is the only category in which all the three teams are evenly matched. Chennai’s Rainer Schuettler might be the youngest, but in terms of match fitness and form, the German, along with Nagpur’s Alex Corretja and Hyderabad’s Thomas Johansson might struggle. At the moment, it’s difficult to draw a conclusion on which legend will prevail. It’s anybody’s ball game in the legends category and that add will certainly add to the excitement.
This section is certainly going to be the most action-packed one. Hyderabad’s Ivo Karlovic, Chennai’s Verdasco, and Nagpur’s Lopez are all dangerous floaters in the ATP tour. All three men have a booming serve, can handle tricky volleys at the net and have the ability to paint the lines from the baseline with their winners. These athletes are also widely known for their meltdown on the court and that will further make the men’s singles a spectacular event. Although, it wouldn’t be fair to pick an outright winner here, Lopez’s prior CTL experience and Karlovic’s current form, should keep them in good stead.
Hyderabad’s Hingis might be in the middle of a purple patch in the WTA doubles circuit, but the Swiss Miss might find the demands of singles competition a bit too fast and physical for her liking. Hingis could draw upon all her experience, but that too might not be adequate for the former Grand Slam champion to nudge ahead. On the other hand, Chennai’s Heather Watson has the weight of shots to remain in contention, but her lack of experience and erratic game could derail her progress. Meanwhile, Raipur’s Jankovic has all her bases covered and the Serb remains a firm favourite to top the group.
Here again, it’s a close call between the Aces and Orangers. Divij Sharan’s recent success in the ATP challengers will certainly help his confidence. His pairing with the accomplished doubles player, Lopez will keep the Nagpur team in good stead. However, Nenduchaiyan too is coming with plenty of matches under his belt and is well aware about his role in the doubles. Moreover, Karlovic’s thunderbolts could give receivers a hard time, owing to which team Hyderabad will fancy their chances of doing well in this department. The Warriors will heavily rely on Verdasco’s doubles expertise, but Vishnu Vardhan could prove to be a weak link.
Karlovic/Hingis and Lopez/Jankovic are arguably the best mixed doubles pairs in this competition, and it will be interesting to see which one prevails in the group. All the four players have wonderful credentials in doubles and could put on an exhibition of mixed doubles for the fans. Both teams will thrive on the huge serve of men, while the ladies will be entrusted with the responsibility to finish off the formalities at the net. Unless the pair of Verdasco/Watson find solutions to counter the barrage of shots from their superior opponents, the Warriors might once again be denied the opportunity of bringing home some points.
Both Hyderabad and Nagpur look formidable and there is little to separate the two teams. Given the variety, experience and marquee names in their squads, tennis fans can expect some riveting and engaging tennis. In the end, it could all easily come down to those few crucial points, which will eventually decide between a place in the finals or nothing. On the other hand, Chennai looks a little under-cooked and could face the heat.