Thursday, November 27, 2014

WORTHY WINNER: Pune Marathas clinched the inaugural edition of the Champions Tennis League on Wednesday.

WORTHY WINNER: Pune Marathas clinched the inaugural edition of the Champions Tennis League on Wednesday. — PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM
It was the team to beat, and Pune Marathas remained one till the end.
The side maintained its undefeated record, subduing Delhi Dreams 27-23, in the final of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) at the RK Khanna Stadium here on Wednesday.
Once again, it was Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who rose to the occasion for Pune, as he overwhelmed Kevin Anderson, breaking his serve twice en route to a 6-3 victory in the fifth and final rubber.
Vibrant atmosphere
The constant, loud cheering by a big bunch of Pune fans provided a vibrant atmosphere even as the Delhi crowd seemed to have lost its voice in the cold of the night.
Though Anderson looked quite determined in the climax, Baghdatis proved too good for him. The Cypriot’s finesse was evident when he followed up a drop with a lob to catch the towering South African on the wrong foot.
The crowd came alive in the men’s doubles, as both pairs produced high-quality fare. Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh, who won the Asian Games silver medal together, clubbed with other partners to showcase their classic touch and crisp volleys.
The spirited approach of Baghdatis and Myneni saw them prevail despite being down 2-4 at one stage. Myneni, who had dropped serve, bounced back to help his team cross the finish line. The contest, coming as it did after the intense battle between Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic, offered a lot of entertainment to the fans who braved the late-night chill.
As he had jokingly pointed out that it was part of the team’s strategy to lose the ‘legends’ singles, Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, went down to Juan Carlos Ferrero. The 49-year-old Aussie, who lost steam as the match progressed, however, had enough stock of his famous chequered head-band, and tossed a few into the crowd.
The 34-year-old supremely-fit Ferrero, a former French Open champion, maintained his winning streak, but it was little consolation for the Spaniard as Pune forged ahead in the next two matches. In fact, Cash, who was busy icing his knee and ankle after his match, was proved right as Pune did not lose another rubber!
Despite struggling a bit to adjust to the slow surface, Radwanska first teamed up with Baghdatis to win the mixed doubles contest, and returned to beat Jankovic in the women’s singles.
Pune took home Rs. one crore along with a silver elephant trophy, while Delhi was richer by Rs. 50 lakh.
The Robert Amritraj ‘most valuable player’ of the tournament award went to Baghdatis while Myneni won the Margaret Amritraj award for the ‘best Indian player.’
The results: Pune Marathas bt Delhi Dreams 27-23 (Pat Cash lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero 3-6; Agnieszka Radwanska & Marcos Baghdatis bt Jelena Jankovic & Sanam Singh 6-5(3); Agnieszka Radwanska bt Jelena Jankovic 6-4; Baghdatis & Saketh Myneni bt Kevin Anderson & Sanam Singh 6-5(2); Baghdatis bt Kevin Anderson 6-3).

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