EVENLY MATCHED TEAMS Hyderabad Aces and Nagpur Orangers are likely to deliver the best match of this year’s Champions Tennis League (CTL) in Hyderabad, today.
Both teams have started off their CTL campaign on a winning note and should be entering this clash as a confident unit. Meanwhile, the Aces are sitting pretty on top of the Group B table and will have the much needed support of their home fans.
As seen earlier in the week, the home team will rely heavily on Ivo Karlovic, while the visitors will pin their hopes strongly on Feliciano Lopez. Both Karlovic and Lopez are one of the best servers on the ATP tour and some thunderbolts could be aimed at the receivers.
From singles, doubles to mixed doubles, this match has all the makings of a classic. TFG analyses the game and picks the winner of the Aces v Orangers match.
Both captains Alex Corretja and Thomas Johansson have won their first match and will be keen on helping their team with an early point. As seen in the matches earlier, the Swede will rely on his booming serves to win a few cheap points, while the Spaniard will stay put on the baseline to grind out his opponent. Faster movements with a bigger game should help Johansson in this set.
Although Martina Hingis won her set against Chennai’s Heather Watson, she might find the going tough against a more accomplished player in Jelena Jankovic. The Serb too, won her tight encounter against Watson and should be a clear favourite to win her set against the Swiss. Hingis might try to chip and charge but Jankovic will be happy to dictate pace from the baseline. Expect a few breaks of serves in this clash. Consistency from the back court and more fire-power should give Nagpur’s Jankovic the set.
If ever there was a dream, mixed doubles team in the Pro circuit, Karlovic and Hingis will qualify as the most dangerous pair. Karlovic’s monster serve, coupled with Hingis’ exquisite volleys at the net should win most points against most opponents. ‘Serve big and volley quick’ could be the mantra for the Aces. On the other hand, Lopez and Jankovic too, have rich credentials as doubles players and possess all the weapons to upset the favourites. However, for the evening though, Hyderabad’s pair might just do enough to sneak ahead.
There is little to choose between Lopez and Karlovic in this set but Nagpur’s Divij Sharan surely holds the edge over Hyderabad’s Jeevan Nendunchezhiyan. The Nagpur pair was sublime against the Warriors in the men's doubles set, with Lopez serving big and Sharan showing his skills at the net. Nendunchezhiyan 's serve might come under the gun here. An overall balanced pair of Lopez/Sharan are likely to get a crucial win in this set.
The fifth and final set between Lopez and Karlovic should be the most exciting clash of the evening. Both players have won their previous singles set and will be itching to keep their streak running for a few more days. Both players will serve thunderbolts and will try to finish points quickly. While Lopez ended up playing a dramatic set against compatriot Fernando Verdasco a few days back, Karlovic had little problems in dispatching Verdasco. Don’t expect any breaks of serves here. A potential tie-break awaits us and should favour the Croat.
There is plenty of variety and class in both teams and we could see a full repertoire of tennis shots in Hyderabad. Another tight, edge of a seat thriller on the cards. The Orangers will pose a huge threat to the hosts, but Hyderabad are likely to have an ace up their sleeve.