UNBEATEN PUNJAB MARSHALLS take on the spirited Raipur Rangers in a potential semi-final clash in the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the Balbir Juneja Stadium in Raipur, today.
The Marshalls are sitting pretty at the top of the Group A table with 6 points and a win today will surely book their places in the finals. That said, Punjab can also qualify if they lose with a small margin (as per the rules: In case of tie in points, total number of games won will be taken into consideration for qualification)
On the other hand, the Rangers are at 4 points and need nothing less than an emphatic win to progress ahead.
In their previous meeting, it was the Marshalls who beat the Rangers quite convincingly (23-15) and will be brimming with confidence. Raipur too will be reasonably satisfied with their performance till now and would be desperate to make the cut. TFG analyses the game and picks the winner of the Marshalls V Rangers match.
Raipur’s captain Thomas Muster would be a relieved man after notching up his first win in the legends category yesterday against Richard Krajicek. That said, his counterpart Greg Rusedski has already beaten the Austrian in the league earlier and has got into his groove of serving and volleying with ease. Expect the Brit to continue serving big and mix up the play with some chip and charge. On the other side of the net, Muster would be happy occupying the baseline. Exciting clash on the cards, but Rusedski should get the job done without much drama.
Punjab’s Elina Svitolina will come into this match knowing that her opponent Alize Cornet has a score to settle. In their previous meeting, the Ukrainian handed an old fashioned 5-1 thrashing to the French lady and would be expecting a backlash. Both women have been the best, in terms of ball-striking, in this year’s CTL. Expect nothing but long, intense and grueling rallies from the back court. This set could get very exciting and should get the crowd involved. Although Cornet won her set yesterday against Flavia Pennetta and is riding high on confidence, Svitolina should come through in a tight encounter.
Cornet and Bautista Agut have adjusted and coordinated well as a pair and will enter the contest against Svitolina/Marcos Baghdatis as the favourites. The Raipur pair edged the Punjab duo for a win early in the tournament and will fancy their chances of repeating the same. However, Svitolina/Baghdatis too, have produced some quality tennis as a pair and wouldn’t be too flustered about their previous result. An entertaining mixed doubles contest awaits us and this time too, Cornet/Agut might have the last laugh.
There is no doubt that the Baghdatis/Saketh Myneni have been the best men’s doubles pair in the competition. Both men have played the crucial points to a nicety and seem to be riding high on their momentum. Meanwhile, Agut/R Ramanathan performed well in patches, but seem to be lacking a definite plan. A week earlier, when the two pairs met, it was the Punjab team that sealed the victory without much trouble. Expect a similar story tonight.
Agut might have dragged Baghdatis into playing their previous set well into overtime, but the Cypriot is unlikely to repeat a series of unforced errors today. Baghdatis is enjoying his stint with the Marshalls and uses his court sense to a nicety. On the other side of the net, Agut might be ranked higher than Baghdatis, but is unlikely to inflict serious damage on the Cypriot.
The Rangers might have a window of an opportunity to sneak through, but the Marshalls seem to have covered all the areas well and once again the likes of Baghdatis, Myneni and Svitolina might play as a cohesive unit to maintain their winning streak and qualify handsomely for the finals.