AFTER GETTING THRASHED by the Hyderabad Aces in their debut match yesterday, the V Chennai Warriors will be desperate to get into a winning mode as they take on the Nagpur Orangers at the SDAT Tennis Stadium in Chennai, today.
The home team found the going tough in their opener and never managed to settle into a rhythm as a unit. That said, time spent on the court yesterday will certainly keep the Warriors hopeful. On the other hand, the Orangers too will realize the importance of finding their footing early and would be keen on starting their campaign on a positive note.
This contest is likely to be decided by how two friends, Chennai’s Fernando Verdasco and Nagpur’s Feliciano Lopez, perform. Both the Spaniards will feature in three out of five sets and their respective sides will be strongly pinning their hopes on the two best players in the match.
Chennai will also look forward to a better response from the home crowd and would want no interruption from the weather gods either. TFG analyses the game and picks the winner of the Warriors V Orangers match.
Chennai’s captain Rainer Schuettler will start proceedings against counterpart Alex Corretja. While the German would have adjusted to the conditions of the court after yesterday’s match, the Spaniard might take time to find his footing. As we saw in the match against the Aces, Schuettler will continue to occupy the baseline and Corretja too might have little interest in approaching the net. A potential baseline shoot out awaits us and Schuettler might just have enough legs and variety to outhit Corretja.
The clash between Chennai’s Heather Watson and Nagpur’s Jelena Jankovic will produce some intriguing exchanges from the back court. Both women rely on their heavy, penetrating strokes to win the points and fans in Chennai might well be treated to some intense hitting. The Brit and the Serb don’t possess a great serve and the outcome of the set could come down to who handles the rallies better. Watson might have spent time on the court yesterday, but Jankovic’s experience and higher ranking should see her come through this test.
As seen over the past few days, the mixed doubles will certainly keep the crowd engaged and the clash between Verdasco/Watson and Lopez/Jankovic has all the makings of a down-to-the-wire thriller. Expect the men to serve big, while the ladies might have to provide cushioning from the back court and at times, finish the points at the net. The Chennai pair might have got used to the demands of the format, but the experience of Nagpur’s pair should be enough to grab the set.
While Verdasco was doing the bulk of the work in yesterday’s men’s doubles, Vishnu Vardhan displayed all the evidence of being the weak link. On the other side of the net, Nagpur’s Divij Sharan is a far accomplished doubles player, who is coming off a successful season in the ATP challengers circuit. As seen in the previous games, the Indian Davis Cup stars have to provide cushioning to their senior pros. Here, the all-round doubles play of Lopez coupled with the support from Sharan should be enough to get a win for the Orangers.
The clash between Lopez and Verdasco is arguably the most difficult match to predict in the CTL. After having played together in the circuit for more than a decade, there are no secrets between the two. The Davis Cup team-mates are also locked dead-even (4-4) on the ATP Tour. Expect some huge serves and big forehands from both men. While Verdasco might be tempted to stay put on the baseline, Lopez will try and use his deceptive slice to break his compatriot’s rhythm. Too close to predict a winner, but considering more variety and prior CTL experience, Lopez might leave the court with a smile.
Tennis fans in Chennai would do well to occupy the seats and should be treated to some exquisite, high-octane tennis from Lopez and Verdasco. The ladies, too, will have a huge role to play for their respective teams. Today, the Warriors might be better prepared, but the Orangers' depth and variety might keep the hosts winless.