The tennis fans in Delhi could not have had it so good. It was a dreamlike scenario to be watching world’s best tennis players in action for three days culminating with the men’s singles set on December 8 between inarguably the best tennis stars in the world. World no.1 Novak Djokovic played against world no.2 Roger Federer and the two produced their best tennis to bring a heavenly feeling for a little over 40 minutes on Monday. Though Federer won the shoot out against Djokovic, Micromax Indian Aces lost the final match of the Indian leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) to Musafir.com UAE Royals by a margin of 29-22. The men’s singles set was fought in the true tennis spirit with none of the players wanting to give anything away while they played at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium at Delhi. The atmosphere resembled one akin to a grand carnival but the Djokovic-Federer set was a fitting finale, where it was difficult to distinguish between the two players. These guys have already become the tennis legends in their life time and watching them play was truly an out-of-the-world feeling. After the set score reached 6-6, the decision required a shoot-out, which Federer won 6-5.
Though the Indian Aces still lead the points’ table, the last match at Delhi belonged to UAE Royals, who went ahead in the contest when Kristina Mladenovic edged out Ana Ivanovic 6-5 in the women’s singles set. They kept up the pressure in the set between men’s legends; Goran Ivanisevic and the legendary American Pete Sampras. Ivanisevic produced great tennis at his age and led 4-1. Sampras found the Croat too strong and retired midway due to a hamstring problem. Fabrice Santoro replaced Sampras but he could not stop Ivanisevic from taking the set without any problem. In the next set, Royals’ dominance continued in mixed doubles with Nenad Zimonjic and Kristina Mladenovic scoring an easy 6-2 victory over Roger Federer and Sania Mirza. In men’s doubles, Indian Aces changed their starting line-up and replaced Rohan Bopanna with Roger Federer after trailing 2-4. But despite the great Federer playing for them with Gael Monfils, the Aces lost the men’s doubles set to Royals in a shoot-out with Djokovic and Zimonjic.
In the first match earlier in the day, it was Manila Mavericks’ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who exhibited a commanding presence against Singapore Slammers to win the match 23-17. Tsonga won the singles 6-2 against Nick Kyrgios and then partnering with Daniel Nestor in men’s doubles, took the set 6-0 against Hewitt and Kyrgios. Mavericks won the men’s legends set as well with Mark Philippoussis maintaining an unbeaten record, when he beat Patrick Rafter 6-3. Though Singapore Slammers took the women’s singles and mixed doubles sets, they still lost the match. Daniela Hantuchova beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 and the Slammers pair of Hantuchova/Kyrgios defeated Mavericks Flipkens/Nestor 6-3.
But the Delhi leg of the IPTL was not without a huge welcome for Roger Federer, who has ruled over the people’s hearts for more than a decade now. Federer and other tennis players got a taste of India and its celebrities during their stay in Delhi. Actress Deepika Padukone played with Federer, who was game for anything during his short stay. Then to enthrall the spectators even more, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan teamed up with Federer to play an exhibition match against Sania Mirza and Djokovic. Other than these, the last day saw Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh and many others being present in the gala dinner in the evening. Federer won many hearts, when he broke into a dance with Bachchan and Padukone. This was the big Swiss man’s maiden India trip and he enjoyed every moment of his stay. The dinner also included Patrick Rafter, Pete Sampras and Boris Becker. Other Indian celebrities were Lara Dutta, Rana Daggubatti and Sunil Gavaskar.
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