Pune Marathas made a remarkable recovery from 0-2 down to win their next three matches in a row as their contest against Bangalore Raptors ended in a
thrilling tie to run away with a bonus point in the Champions Tennis League on Thursday.
Marcos Baghdatis played superb tennis against Feliciano Lopez to win the super tie-breaker as the five-match contest ended 24-24 at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association Stadium.
Both played their hearts out and ha rdly showed any signs of fatigue as they played three -- the mixed doubles, men's doubles and men's singles -- of the five sets of the fixture.
It was the Cypriot Baghdatis who prevailed over Spaniard Lopez in a nerve-wracking encounter which saw each of them refusing to yield any inch. While the Spaniard produced some exquisite flat returns, Baghdatis regaled the the motley spectators with his fine overhead placements.
All eyes were on the men's singles as Bangalore enjoyed a wafer-thin 19-18 lead, but Baghdatis spoiled the rhythm of Lopez with some exquisite forehand cross court winners to break the Spaniard in the fifth game and take the score to 21-21.
Both the players kept their serves with the scoreline reading 5-5 and Baghdatis eventually won the tie-breaker 5-3. Baghdatis and India's Saketh Myneni then defeated Lopez and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-4 in men's doubles.
Earlier, impressive wins by Thomas Enqvist and the mixed doubles pair of Venus Williams and Feliciano Lopez helped Bangalore Raptors take a 15-12 lead over Pune Marathas.
After losing the first two matches, Pune kept their hopes alive as Agnieszka Radwanka, currently ranked sixth in the world, defeated former women's world number one American Williams 6-3 at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association Stadium. The American had herself to blame as she could not break the young Polish player.
Both Radwanska and Williams held their serves until the Polish broke the American in the eighth game. Williams also had a wonderful chance of breaking Radwanska, but failed, as she committed crucial unforced errors, hitting into the net and smashing out.
Radwanska fought her way back in the ninth game, from 0-40 down, to pocket the game and the match. She played cleverly and made Williams run around and forced her opponent to play to her strengths.
Enqvist regaled the spectators with his familiar shots and took an early 2-1 lead after he broke Australia's Pat Cash in the singles legends' clash. Enqvist did not give any room for the veteran Cash to make a comeback of any sorts. The agile Enqvist maintained his tempo and won the match 6-3.
In the mixed doubles, the second match of the tie, Williams and Lopez overwhelmed Radwanska and Marcos Baghdatis 6-3 after the Bangalore pair took an early 3-2 lead breaking the rival combo in the fifth game.
Lopez served well and Williams capitalised on her famous baseline smashes and volleys. Both Baghdatis and Radwanska proved no match to the power game by Williams and delectable serves of Lopez.
The final result is decided on the basis of aggregate score of the five-match tie. The five matches are in the category of Legends (singles), Mixed Doubles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles and Men's Singles.
Paes' loses as Punjab Marshalls trail
In the other tie in Chandigarh, playing his first singles match since 2008, Leander Paes produced an inspired show but went down fighting to former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera as his Wave Punjab Marshalls team trailed 0-2 against Mumbai Tennis Masters.
Paes, who stepped in for an injured Greg Rusedski, as the 'legend' of the Punjab team, seemed to ride the wave of home crowd support. He fought back from 1-4 down, using the faster courts at the CLTA to his advantage to level 4-4.
At deuce, while serving at 4-5, Paes and the Punjab team used the free point rule to take the set into the tie-break. Though Bruguera seemed handcuffed on the forehand side for most of the single-set match, he seemed much more in control of the rallies in the tie-break and ran away a 5-2 winner in the 'legends' match.
Paes and Bruguera had started the evening on a nostalgic note, as they spoke about sharing the podium at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Indian had won the bronze while Bruguera went home with a silver.
Punjab Marshalls' fell further behind as the pair of Paes and Garbine Muguruza went down 3-6 to Tommy Robredo and Alize Cornet.
Mumbai's mixed doubles pair turned in a professional, solid performance, leading from start to finish to put their team in a strong position after two sets.
Chandigarh witnessed a massive turnout for the game after tickets were made free by Marshalls owners Gurpreet Singh Kiki and wife Kudrat Tamber.
The players were given a raucous welcome as whistles echoed in the arena. Punjab and Mumbai had both lost their opening matches
to Delhi Dreams.
Image: Agnieszka Radwanska of Pune Marathas in action against Venus Williams of Bangalore Raptors during the Champions League Tennis