Micromax Indian Aces won their third consecutive match on the last day of the unique International Premier Tennis League as they defeated Musafir.com UAE Royal 28-20 in the Manila league of the championship. In the second match on November 30, another big celebrity, Serena Williams arrived in the Mall of Asia Arena to join her Singapore Slammers teammates but her presence made little difference to the result as Manila Mavericks scored a comfortable 27-19 victory over the slammers. With that match, the first leg of the IPTL was concluded and teams have already reached Singapore, where the second part of the league gets underway from Tuesday December 2.
After three days and three matches, Micromax Indian Aces continue to top the points table. In the first match on November 30, they came face to face with UAE Royals, who have had an unbeaten record in their last two matches with Manila Mavericks and Singapore Slammers. In the end, however, Indian Aces turned up a great performance to hand a 29-20 defeat to the Royals. For UAE Royals, Coach John Laffnie de Jager won the toss and elected to receive. The first set of the match was the women’s singles between Royals’ Kristina Mladenovic and Aces’ Ana Ivanovic. Just when it seemed that Mladenovic would run through with ease at 5-1, Ivanovic staged a remarkable recovery and gave some anxious moments to Mladenovic. In the end, however, the Royals’ woman won the match from Ivanovic 6-4. The next set involved the play between the mixed doubles pairings. Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna of the Indian Aces continued their tournament form and defeated Royals’ team of Kristina Mladenovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3. Sania and Bopanna are already the crowd favorites at Manila and they drew loud cheers from the holiday crowd for their victory. The next set was the men’s doubles, where Indian Aces were represented by Bopanna and Gael Monfils. These two scored a 6-4 victory over Royals’ Nenad Zimonjic and Marin Cilic. During this match, Cilic suffered an injury and he had to pull out of his following singles set against Monfils. Cilic was replaced by another rising star Malek Jaziri but the Frenchman was more than a match for Jaziri as he won the set 6-3. The last set in this match was a highly awaited event by the crowd in which Indian Aces’ Fabrice Santoro took on UAE Royals’ famous Croat Goran Ivanisevic. It was an entertaining show between two past legends full of big serves, court coverage and brilliant shot making. In the end, however, it was Santoro, who stole the 6-4 victory from Ivanisevic.
The last match of the Manila leg featured DBS Singapore Slammers playing against Manila Mavericks. The highlight of the match was the arrival of Serena Williams, who featured in two matches, one of which she lost. But her presence had kept the crowds on their seats. Mavericks finally got their first win as they defeated the Slammers 27 games to 19 over 5 sets. Mavericks’ player-cum-coach Treat Huey won the toss and elected to serve. The first set featured men’s legends in which Mavericks drafted Mark Philippoussis in place of the injured Carlos Moya to play against Slammers’ Patrick Rafter. The big serving Philippoussis gave a great start to Mavericks by beating rafter 6-2. The next set was the men’s doubles, in which crowd favorites, Treat Huey and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasted Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych. Kyrgios had come in mid-set in place of Lleyton Hewitt but the Slammers could not win in the ensuing shoot-out. The games were full of great net play and brilliant winners. The next set had the crowd roaring as women’s singles living legend Serena Williams made her appearance for Slammers in the doubles match with Lleyton Hewitt against Mavericks’ Kirsten Flipkens and Andy Murray. Williams/Hewitt however had to bow out 1-6 against Murray/Flipkens. But Serena came back for the women’s singles set against Flipkens and showed why she is world’s no.1 women’s tennis player. She broke Flipkens’ serve early and won the set 6-3. The last set between Mavericks’ Andy Murray and Slammers Kyrgios went into the shoot-out with Murray emerging the winner in the end.
Players and crowd have enjoyed the league matches of the inaugural IPTL and at the conclusion of the first leg, Micromax Indian Aces lead the table with 12 points from 3 victories. In great form already, the Micromax Indian Aces look like lifting the inaugural IPTL. But prediction is hazardous as plenty of matches still remain.