The problem with consumerist sporting enterprises is that they can sometimes descend into the realm of absurdity. The Champions Tennis League (CTL) match between Delhi Dreams and Mumbai Tennis Masters, originally scheduled to begin at 8pm, finally rolled into action an hour later, in Delhi on Tuesday, simply because the previous match taking place in Hyderabad between the hosts and Pune Marathas went on beyond the scheduled finish time, thus making it impossible for the official broadcasters to telecast the Delhi match if it began on time.
The turnout was slightly better than the first day (getting in a bunch of school kids did fill up some bits) but the crowd had to undergo an agonising wait in the chill that got stronger as the night progressed.
However, they did seem to be in the right spirit for the series of matches that followed, whose competitive value is still a matter of debate despite the presence of a plethora of former World No 1s.
Consider this, former French Open winners Sergi Bruguera and Juan Carlos Ferrero squared off in the first singles, titled the legends' singles. Bruguera, who won the clay court major in 1993 and '94, is now 43, his opponent, who retired in 2012, is nine years his junior.
The age difference itself made it a no-contest, even in the match of a single set. Ferrero won 6-2.
In the mixed doubles that followed, neither the team of Jelena Jankovic and Kevin Anderson (Delhi), nor that of Alize Cornet and Tommy Robredo (Mumbai) play this format often. However, Delhi won 6-2.
The crowd, which had begun the evening with drums and cheers, were strangely subdued by the time the ladies singles between Cornet, ranked 19 in the world, took on former US Open finalist and former world No. 1 Jankovic. Though the tight 6-3 scoreline did get people going towards the end. Shouts of 'marry me Jelena' enlivened the atmosphere. Cornet won 6-3. At the time going to the press, Delhi led 2-1.
The CTL is a social experiment of sorts, where the Indian crowd is exposed to an IPL-style tennis tournament. It is an experiment that may, just may, work, despite the obvious incongruities. And if the level of play was like the third match, all the better.