THE MUMBAI TENNIS MASTERS will play their second and final home game against debutants, Raipur Rangers in the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) courts in Mumbai, today.
The home side might have lost an edge-of-the-seat thriller yesterday against a formidable Punjab Marshalls side, but the Masters put on a performance they will be proud of, and will be keen on getting onto the scoreboard against a relatively inexperienced Raipur side.
While Mumbai will continue to bank on their experience of playing in CTL and yesterday’s outing, the new-comers, Rangers might initially struggle to find their footing.
TFG analyses the game and picks the winner of the Masters v Rangers evening clash.
Mumbai’s captain and the winner of yesterday’s legends match Richard Krajicek will once again open up proceedings for his team. The Dutch played some old-school, serve and volley tennis to beat Punjab’s skipper Greg Rusedski in a tight tie-breaker. Krajicek is now nicely warmed-up and should take the court with all the confidence against former “clay court king” Thomas Muster of Raipur. The Austrian might take time to settle into the conditions and that could present Mumbai’s captain with an ideal opportunity to sneak ahead.
The Mumbai fans were thoroughly entertained by the clinical shots of Flavia Pennetta. The reigning US Open champion took little time to adjust to the conditions and started painting the lines with a flurry of winners off both flanks. For the most part of her match, the Italian seemed to have played within herself and with time the penetration in her strokes will only get better. Raipur’s Alize Cornet too, is climbing up the rankings in the WTA Tour, but her inability to out-hit her opponents with powerful strokes might hinder her progress against a spirited Pennetta.
Pennetta will stay on the court to team-up with Santiago Giraldo in the mixed doubles against Rangers’ pair of Cornet and Bautista Agut. Pennetta/Giraldo might have won their opener yesterday, but would be keen on improving their all court play. Meanwhile, Raipur’s pair too might face some early issues with their coordination and pattern of play and that should make for an intriguing contest between two fairly even teams. However, time spent on the court might just give the Mumbai pair an edge over their opponents.
Mumbai’s pair of Sriram Balaji and Giraldo might have lost their opening set, but given a few close calls and the quality of tennis in yesterday’s encounter, Mumbai’s men’s doubles team looks in great shape to go one step further tonight. Both men served well and also found themselves reasonably comfortable at the net. That said, the pair of Agut and Ramkumar Ramanathan too, could fancy their chances and keep the Rangers in the hunt. This match could well be decided by which team coordinates better and wins the tight points. It’s a close call between the two, but considering that Mumbai’s pair is still fresh from their first doubles match, Balaji/Giraldo might just eke out a win.
The final match in the singles category between Giraldo and Agut could prove to be the best match of the evening. If yesterday’s singles match was anything to go by, then fans can expect another high-octane hitting to continue from both baseliners. It is tough to pick a winner here, but the Spaniard’s superior ranking in comparison to the Colombian could give him the initial edge. That said, it shouldn’t be a surprise if it comes down to those few crucial, decisive points.
After the opening match yesterday, players spoke about the tough, humid conditions in Mumbai. The weather isn’t going to improve much and team Raipur will surely face the heat on the court. Meanwhile, the Masters have got adequate match practice under their belt and would also look forward to their home fans’ support. The visitors might find it difficult to gain the early advantage while, the hosts should emerge victorious without too much drama. What is more important is the margin with which Mumbai Masters win because that will help them climb up the table on overall games won.