IN A REMARKABLE, tension-filled fifth and final tie-break, the Punjab Marshalls used their second super-point to beat the Hyderabad Aces (22-21) en-route to being crowned as the winners of the second edition of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) in Hyderabad.
At two sets all and 17 games apiece, there was no separating the two teams and Punjab’s Marcos Baghdatis and Hyderabad’s Ivo Karlovic locked horns to determine the winner of the CTL-2.
In the end, both men further extended the excitement in the crowd and the nervy moments in the respective owners’ boxes by playing a final set tie-break. Just when the Aces were a few points away from winning the title, Baghdatis and the Marshalls took their super-point to go up by 4-3 (points). With one serve left on the Cypriot’s racquet, Baghdatis guided his team to glory.
Both legends started off holding serve comfortably and had little problems winning games on their serve for the first six games. That said, Thomas Johansson’s serve came under the gun as Greg Rusedski had two break point opportunities, but the Swede averted the danger by holding his nerve and the serve.
While the Aces’ captain kept serving and attacking from the baseline, the Brit used his variety well and approached the net at every given opportunity. As the set head into a tie-breaker, Punjab’s captain produced some clinical tennis to breeze through the breaker to nail the opening set 5-4.
Both Martina Hingis and Elina Svitolina started the set by breaking each other and had little issues in occupying the baseline. As expected both ladies indulged in some incredible hitting and showed no hesitation in going for broke.
In the seventh game, Hingis broke the Ukrainian and had the opportunity to serve out the set, but Svitolina hit back immediately to square the set at 4-4. Into the second tie-breaker of the finals, both women kept hitting the lines and refused to buckle under pressure. That said at four points all, Svitolina came up with two huge shots to seal the set 5-4.
After two sets, the visitors were leading by 10-8 and the home side had some work to do in the next three sets. And the mixed doubles pair of Hingis/Karlovic responded in style by playing some exquisite tennis and kept exerting pressure on the pairing of Svitolina/Baghdatis.
In the fourth game, Svitolina’s serve came under fire and Hyderabad’s duo came up with the goods to break serve and nudge ahead. In the end, Karlovic’s big serve, coupled with Hingis’ soft hands at the net helped the Aces grab the set comfortably 5-2.
In the men’s doubles, after an easy hold for both pairs in the first two games, Punjab’s pair of Baghdatis/Saketh Myneni used their first super-point to break Jeevan’s serve to lead 2-1. However, Karlovic/Jeevan returned the favour in the next game by using their only super-point to break Baghdatis’ serve.
At 2-2, both teams showed signs of desperation and wanted to have an edge over the other. In the sixth game, Hyderabad broke Punjab again and had sets points on Jeevan’s serve. That said, in a remarkable turn of events, Punjab hit back immediately to get back on serve.
In the end, the set had to be determined by a tie-break and all four players produced some enthralling, high-octane doubles tennis. While, Indian Davis Cuppers, Myneni and Jeevan played their best tennis of the league, Punjab’s pair of Baghdatis/Myneni clinched the set 5-4 from the jaws of defeat.
Now, at 2 sets all and 17 games apiece, the fifth and final set of the evening was anybody’s ball game and the men’s singles between Baghdatis and Karlovic was a fitting, winner takes all clash.
At 4 games all, it all came down to one final tie-break to determine which team would go on to clinch the title. And, Baghdatis once again proved his worth by helping his team win the CTL crown in dramatic fashion.
At the post-match presentation, Martina Hingis was declared the winner of the Robert Amritraj Award for being the most valuable overseas player. Meanwhile, Saketh Myneni won the Margaret award for being the best Indian player for the second consecutive year.