Karlovic’s unreturnable serves helps Hyderabad whitewash debutants Chennai

THE WORLD’S BEST server in tennis, Ivo Karlovic put on an exhibition of big serving to help Hyderabad Aces whitewash the V Chennai Warriors (5-0) sets (25-16) games in the first Group B match of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the SDAT stadium in Chennai. 

As predicted by TFG, Karlovic’s big serving was always going to be the difference between the two sides. Martina Hingis and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan too, contributed to the win by showing great skills and coordination in teaming up with the Croat.

This resounding win puts the Aces on top of the Group B table and the margin of victory in points/games also bodes well for team Hyderabad going ahead.  

As usual the legends got the tie underway and as mentioned in our preview, Thomas Johansson started serving some big balls, while Rainer Schuettler took comfort on the baseline. Initially, both players started feeling each other and as the match progressed, the captains experimented with the chip and charge play. In the end, the Swede nailed the set (5-4) in a tight tie-breaker. 

The ladies then took to the court as Hingis and Heather Watson engaged in some entertaining and grueling rallies. Both women visibly struggled on serve, but came up with some stunning exchanges from the back. After some intense hitting, it was the experienced Swiss, who seized the opportunity and broke the Brit to grab the set (5-3). 

By now, the visitors were leading 10-7 in the games and the hosts had to come up with something special in the mixed doubles. 

However, Karlovic/Hingis remained relentless in exerting pressure on their opponents Fernando Verdasco/Watson and raced to a 4-2 lead in the set. Karlovic’s thunderbolts were almost impossible for Watson to handle, while Hingis kept covering the net to a nicety. In the end, the formidable pairing of Karlovic/Hingis extended their lead to clinch the set (5-2).

Although, the home team was in deep trouble, but the knowledgeable tennis fans in Chennai applauded the sheer brilliance of the Aces team.

As the tie started slipping away from the hands of the Warriors, Karlovic carried his rich form and big serving into the men’s doubles showdown. The pair of Verdasco/Vishnu Vardhan had a daunting task to stop the pairing of Karlovic/Nedunchezhiyan. 

As both teams got on the scoreboard, a slight drizzle caused some concern for the organizers and the wet patches threatened to stop play. However, both teams insisted on playing and fortunately, the drizzle stopped. With three games apiece, a tie-breaker seemed inevitable, but a timely break for the Hyderabad pair sealed the set (5-3). 

The Warriors had now failed to win even a single set and were facing a huge deficit of 12-20. 

In the final match of the evening, Verdasco and Karlovic started firing, some booming serves and kept cruising through their games. Both men showed little interest in engaging in long rallies and created opportunities to finish the point early. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Verdasco lost the fifth and the final set to the chief destroyer of Chennai in a tie-break (5-4).

Chennai will remain at home to play their second match against the Nagpur Orangers tomorrow at the same venue. Meanwhile, Hyderabad will fly back home and wait for the Orangers to come over and play their second match on the 29th. 

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