Micromax Indian Aces emerged as the best team out of four in the 4-Asian-city-legs, after all matches in Dubai were concluded on Saturday. Roger Federer skipped the Dubai leg but that didn’t prevent the Aces from lifting the inaugural trophy, as they finished as champions of the first International Premier Tennis League. The Musafir.com UAE Royals were the closest contenders for the title as they had earlier beaten the Aces 29-15. In the end, however, Royals’ title chances were dented when they lost 21-23 against DBS Singapore Slammers.
In the first match of Dubai leg on December 11, Indian Aces edged out Singapore Slammers 28-24 with victories in women’s singles, men’s legends singles, mixed doubles and men’s doubles. Aces’ only loss came in the men’s singles. But most sets were tightly contested and the Aces had to toil hard. The women’s singles set between Aces’ Ana Ivanovic and Slammers’ Daniela Hantuchova went to shootout after the players were locked at 5-5. Ivanovic prevailed in the shootout to give Aces an early lead. It was much easier for Aces in legends’ singles, as Fabrice Santoro scored a 6-3 victory over Patrick. Despite being 0-5 down, Rafter pulled back to win three consecutive games but ultimately lost 3-6 to the Frenchman. The mixed doubles set also went to shootout after the set between Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna and Hantuchova/Bruno Soares came level at 5-5. Both pairs played consistent game but the Indians prevailed in the end. For men’s doubles third set, Bopanna teamed up with Gael Monfils to defeat Soares/Hewitt 6-3. In the last set, Berdych played brilliantly against Monfils to win 8-4 in overtime.
In second match on Thursday, UAE Royals beat Manila Mavericks 26-25. In women’s singles, world no.8 Caroline Wozniacki defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-2. In men’s legends set, Royals’ Goran Ivanisevic lost to Mark Philippoussis in a shootout. In men’s singles, world no.12 Tsonga played great tennis and handed a shootout defeat to world no.1 Novak Djokovic. In mixed doubles, Mavericks’ pair of Flipkens/Nestor beat Royals’ Zimonjic/Mladenovic 6-4. This brought the match score to 20-20. The decision of the match hinged on the outcome of men’s doubles, which was finally won in the shootout by Royal’s Zimonjic/Marin Cilic, who played against Tsonga/Nestor.
On Friday’s first match, Indian Aces beat Manila Mavericks 28-23 despite great efforts from Mavericks Tsonga, Nestor and Flipkens. The match began with men’s legends first set, in which Aces’ Santoro handed Philippoussis his first defeat of IPTL. In men’s singles, Gael Monfils beat Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-2. In mixed doubles, Bopanna/Mirza defeated Nestor/Flipkens 6-4. Ana Ivanovic gave the Aces their fourth set by winning 6-3 against Kirsten Flipkens. The big set of the day was the men’s doubles that the Aces lost. Despite Bopanna/Monfils playing their hearts out, Tsonga/Nestor won at 11-4.
In the second match on Friday, hosts UAE Royals lost a thriller 21-23 against Singapore Slammers. In women’s singles, Hantuchova beat Mladenovic 6-1. But in the next men’s legends’ set Goran Ivanisevic returned the token by winning against Patrick Rafter by the same margin of 6-1. UAE Royals went ahead in mixed doubles third set, when Zimonjic/Mladenovic defeated Soares/Hantuchova 6-4. The next two sets were full of thrills. In men’s doubles, Slammers’ Hewitt/Kygrios outclassed Zimonjic/Cilic 6-3 but the last men’s singles set featured world no.1 Djokovic playing against Tomas Berdych. In a nail-biting shootout, Berdych overpowered Djokovic 6-5.
On the last day of the inaugural IPTL, heavy margins of victories for Manila Mavericks and UAE Royals created a scare for Indian Aces, who had led the standing from the first leg onwards. But since they had built a good cushion, their defeat in the last match against the hosts did not hurt them much. In the first match Manila Mavericks defeated Singapore Slammers 30-15. The first men’s legends’ set was won by Philippoussis, who defeated Rafter in a shootout. In men’s singles, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber played in place of Tsonga and stunned Tomas Berdych 6-2. There was another thumping 6-1 win for Mavericks in mixed doubles set, when Flipkens/Nestor beat Hantuchova/Kyrgios. In men’s doubles, Nestor/Kohlschreiber defeated Hewitt/Soares 6-4. In the last women’s singles set, Flipkens beat Hantuchova 6-3 to complete the rout.
In the last match of IPTL, hosts UAE Royal inflicted a heavy 29-15 defeat on table toppers Indian Aces. Except the women’s singles set, the Aces lost all other sets. Ana Ivanovic won her set 6-5 in a shootout against Kristina Mladenovic. Afterwards, Zimonjic/Mladenovic beat Bopanna/Mirza 6-2; Zimonjic/Ivanisevic beat Monfils/Pioline 6-2 and Ivanisevic beat Pioline in the shootout. In the last match, Djokovic blanked out Gael Monfils 6-0 to show why he is world’s no. 1 player.
Micromax Indian Aces won the inaugural IPTL Trophy, a life-size tennis racket with ball, decorated with diamonds and gemstones. The Aces had Federer, Sampras, Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Bopanna, Sania Mirza, Fabrice Santoro and many others turning out for them at different stages of the four-leg tournament. UAE Royals were second, Manila Mavericks third, and Singapore Slammers last.
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