FORMIDABLE HYDERABAD ACES will take on the debutants, V Chennai Warriors, in the third match of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the SDAT Tennis stadium in Chennai, today.
The Hyderabad team is coming into this match as the overwhelming favourites and will be delighted to have the services of “Ace King” Ivo Karlovic and “Volley Queen” Martina Hingis. The Aces will also draw upon their last year’s experience of playing in the CTL.
On the other hand, the home team would heavily rely upon the experience and fire-power of Fernando Verdasco to guide them through the initial stages. Also, any support from the passionate, Chennai tennis fans will help the Warriors.
Given the impressive response seen in the past at the ATP Chennai Open, expect the crowd to fill in the seats quickly. TFG analyses the game and picks the winner of the Aces v Warriors match.
Just a year separates the two legends in this match. Chennai’s Rainer Schuettler (39) and Hyderabad’s Thomas Johansson (40) retired from the game in 2012 and 2009 respectively. Going by reports, both men have been playing in the ATP tour senior events and might not be necessarily feeling any rustiness. While Johansson would want to stick to his tried and tested method of serving big and mixing it up with some volleys, Schuettler would be happy to occupy the baseline. Not a lot to choose between the two, but the Swede’s bigger game might just be better suited to the format. However, consistency from the back court will always keep the German in the hunt.
Hyderabad’s Martina Hingis might be the world’s best women’s doubles player, but that won’t guarantee the great Swiss any success in the singles. Her clash against Chennai’s Heather Watson will be a big challenge for the multiple Grand Slam champion. Watson won’t refrain from going for broke and Hingis might have a lot of running to do for her liking. That said, Hingis will rely upon her craftiness to counter the Brit's power. Contrasting styles of play will make for a great spectacle and Watson might just prove too hot for Hingis on this occasion.
Karlovic/Hingis pair is arguably the best mixed doubles combo in the CTL. Big serving coupled with effective volleys is an ideal recipe for success in doubles tennis and Karlovic/Hingis are second to none in this aspect. Although Karlovic will dictate the tempo of the match with his serve, his reach around the net area, too, won’t make passing easy for his opponents. The pair of Verdasco/Watson might take time to get into the rhythm and will need to get their coordination and tactics right. Here, the Aces should come through without any trouble.
Two big servers and two Indian doubles specialists will make for an interesting viewing. Hyderabad’s Karlovic/Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will take on Chennai’s pairing of Verdasco/Vishnu Vardhan. This contest might well be decided by how the Indians handle the net. That said, if Vardhan and Nedunchezhiyan can hold their respective serves without being broken, it will certainly put their team in the driver’s seat. If the match goes down to the wire, we might see the home team captain use his super point to redeem a crucial point.
In this final match of the evening between Karlovic and Verdasco, we could see an exhibition of aces and heavy shots from the back court. Both players can also surprise one another, by sneaking into the net and trying to finish the point aggressively. The Croat and the Spaniard are dangerous floaters on the ATP tour and have the ability to rattle their opponents with their attacking game. The nature of the format is such that winning games takes top precedence, and one break of serve between Karlovic and Verdasco can prove to be a deciding factor in the match. Current form and 210-230 kmph thunderbolts should see the Croat nudge ahead.
Both teams will be playing their first match of the tournament and might take a few games to settle into the conditions and the format. Karlovic will be the biggest trump card for the visitors, as the giant will feature in three sets. Hingis’ experience and class at the net, too bodes well for the Aces. Meanwhile, the hosts will rely heavily on Verdasco’s all-round game to bring home some crucial, decisive games. At the moment, though, Hyderabad look poised to kick-off their CTL-2 campaign with a bang.