The Champions Tennis League (CTL) was predestined to be overshadowed by its big brother, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). After all, the latter boasts of hallowed names as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, making it a certain winner (albeit in comparison) to the former, which drew to a close here on Wednesday. POOR SALES Ticket sales were discouraging throughout the all-too-abrupt tournament and the empty stands even during the final between Delhi Dreams and Pune Marathas did not augur well for the organisers. The question was whether this uneasy experiment would end with a bang or a whimper.
Not that the CTL did not have stars in its ranks, but most of them such as Martina Hingis and even Venus Williams were past their prime. Questions about the competitive value of the tournament were also raised, questions that gained more currency at the end of the so-called legends’ singles match that kicked off the proceedings.
The 49- year- old for mer Wimbledon champion, Pat Cash, who had lost all his previous matches, took on former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had lost none of his. Cash raised a few eyebrows by holding on to serve till 2-2 and even managed a few winners when he went to the net, but it was always a foregone conclusion as Ferrero started to get his passing shots flying past the old master with disdain. He won 6-3.
It seemed like much ado about nothing as the chill intensified; but that’s when world No 6 Agnieszka Radwanska took centrestage and took it upon herself to provide some quality tennis to the small but vocal crowd.
First, she teamed up with Marcos Baghdatis to clinch the mixed doubles against a sprightly Sanam Singh and Jelena Jankovic 6-5 (5-3), then toppled Jankovic in a hard-fought women’s singles match 6-4 that provided some exhilarating moments of top-quality tennis.
There was more competition in the men’s doubles as Saketh Myneni and Baghdatis pulled off a 6-5 (5-2) win over Kevin Anderson and Sanam Singh. Pune were ahead by 21-20 and a close final had somehow come into being.
The icing on the cake was provided by world No 85 Baghdatis upsetting world No 16 Kevin Anderson 6-3 in the men’s singles to give Pune the title by 27-23. In hindsight the final had all the right elements, but will it ensure another CTL next year? Only time will tell.