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CTL REPORT: Flawless Raipur demolish Mumbai to keep their hopes of CTL finals alive

THE RAIPUR RANGERS have maintained a perfect 100% winning record against the Mumbai Tennis Masters after beating the visitors by an emphatic margin of (25-15) games in their second tie of this year’s Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the Balbir Juneja Stadium in Raipur, yesterday. 

The hosts put on a clinical show in front of a decently packed and noisy crowd in Raipur. From the word go, the Rangers stuck to their task and remained focused till the last set. From singles, doubles to mixed doubles, every player contributed towards the whitewash as the home team won all their five sets. 

The Rangers now have four points in their kitty and will continue to remain at the second position in the Group A point table. The victory against the Masters has also kept Raipur’s dreams of qualifying for the finals of the tournament alive. 

As usual, legends Richard Krajicek and Thomas Muster started off the proceedings for the evening and both men held serve comfortably for a few games. At 2-2, the home crowd got behind the Austrian and helped their captain break Krajicek’s serve in the fifth game. 

In the end, Muster held his serve to nail the first set 5-3. Far too many unforced errors proved costly for the Dutch. 
In the second set of the evening, Flavia Pennetta and Alize Cornet took to the court and immediately started exchanging heavy balls from the baseline. However, it was the Italian who drew first blood by breaking the Frenchwoman. 

But Cornet broke back quickly to get to level terms in the middle of the set. Both women started shanking the balls and struggled on their serves. In the end, an untimely double fault by Pennetta in the eighth game gave Raipur’s Cornet the set 5-3.

In the mixed doubles contest, Mumbai’s Pennetta was benched due to an arm injury and was replaced by Anastasiya Vasylyeva to partner Santiago Giraldo against Raipur’s Cornet and Bautista Agut. 

In this set, fortunes kept fluctuating from one side to the other. It wasn’t the most entertaining set to watch, but Cornet/Agut managed to win it in the tie-breaker 5-4.

After three sets of play, the hosts were leading the visitors by 15-10. 

The men’s doubles too had some scratchy play by all four players but here too the Raipur pair of Agut/R Ramanathan dictated the pace of play and continued driving home the advantage. While, Ramanathan kept serving big and finishing the points at the net, his compatriot S Balaji struggled. In the end, Agut/Ramanathan sealed the set 5-3 to give Raipur an unassailable lead of 20-13.

In the fifth and final set of the evening, Giraldo had a monumental task on his hands, but his hopes of making a heroic comeback was quickly put to rest after the Spaniard raced to a 2-0 lead. In the end, Agut’s consistency and relentless pressure saw the Spaniard through in convincing fashion 5-2.

After their third straight loss, Mumbai’s run in this edition of CTL has come to an end. On the other hand, the Raipur Rangers will play a potential semi-final tie against the table toppers Punjab Marshalls, today. 

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