Marathas edge out Raptors in thriller

Marathas edge out Raptors  in thriller

Marcos Baghdatis kept his nerve to win two tie-breaks to take Pune Marathas home in a thriller against Bangalore Raptors in their Champions Tennis League (CTL) clash here at the KSLTA Courts on Thursday.

Having just won a tie-break 5-3  to level the scores 24-all at the end of the fifth match against Feliciano Lopez to send the tie into another breaker, the Cypriot won the clutch points to take the second 5-1 to help Pune into the top of the zonal leaderboard.

The visitors, who were trailing 9-12 after the end of the first two matches, upended the script to take the tie 25-24.

Most of the credit for the turnaround should go to Agnieszka Radwanska and Baghdatis, who displayed the tenacity that took him to the Australian Open final in 2006.
After Pat Cash, 49, lost tamely to Thomas Enqvist in the legends singles match 3-6, the mixed doubles pairing of Radwanska and Baghdatis lost to Venus Williams and Lopez by the same margin.

But the Pole Radwanska wrested back the tie in Pune’s favour by beating Venus 6-3.
With Pune still trailing 12-15, it was imperative that Baghdatis and Saketh Myneni clawed back to plug the deficit in their men’s doubles match against Lopez and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

And that is just what they did. After breaking Lopez for a 4-2 lead, Baghdatis essayed his trademark counter punches and cross court passing shots to take the match 6-4.

With the hosts enjoying a slim 19-18 lead going into the deciding fifth match, both the Spaniard and the Cypriot held serves before the latter broke the former for a 4-2 lead.

Lopez seemed to have lost his rhythm and Baghdatis upped his game by hitting a few delightful lobs that wouldn’t have been out of place at the Augusta Masters. But Lopez broke back immediately by adopting a serve and volley approach to level the match at 4-4.

With the tension among both camps palpable at this stage, Venus decided to play impromptu cheerleader as she strode to the centre of the court waving a Raptors’ flag. The sparse crowd, who were more occupied in eating prawn sandwiches than exercising their vocal chords, began to get behind the home players but Baghdatis levelled the scores at 5-5 to send it into a tie-breaker.

After clinching the first to level the points, he finished off the tie with an ace. Given the arbitrary points system, the tie ended in somewhat farcical circumstances with Baghdatis celebrating on one side of the court even as Lopez asked the chair umpire whether he had lost.

Speaking after the match, Baghdatis said the team’s fighting spirit had enabled them to come from two sets to love down for the second time in three nights. If the hosts are to have any chances of qualifying for the final, they need to win their tie against Hyderabad Aces on Friday.

Result: Pune Marathas: 25 bt Bangalore Raptors: 24 (Legends singles: Pat Cash lt to Thomas Enqvist 3-6; Mixed doubles: Agniezska Radwanska/ Marcos Baghdatis lt to Feliciano Lopez/ Venus Williams 3-6; Women’s singles: Agniezska Radwanska bt Venus Williams 6-3; Men’s doubles: Marcos Baghdatis/ Saketh Myneni bt Feliciano Lopez/ Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4; Men’s singles: Marcos Baghdatis bt Feliciano Lopez 7-5 (first tie break 5-3; second tie break 5-1).

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