Indian Aces open IPTL Manila leg with win over Singapore Slammers
MANILA, Philippines - The Indian Aces commenced the 2014 Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) tournament with a 26-16 victory over the Singapore Slammers on Friday evening, November 28, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The most notable performer out of the Aces was Ana Ivanovic, who was flawless from start to finish in her 6-0 women's singles match win over Daniela Hantuchova.
"I really enjoyed and I was really happy to win the first game and settle in," Ivanovic said during the post-game press conference.
"The crowd was amazing and they were really into the match… it's great to see."
Fabrice Santora, on the other hand, was part of the most exciting matchup of the first fixture by outlasting former grand slam champion Patrick Rafter, 8-4, in a five-minute tiebreaker shootout during the legends' singles match.
The start of the fixture featured a mixed doubles match between Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza of the Aces, who raced off to a quick 4-1 lead over Bruno Soares and Hantuchova of the Slammers.
The pair from the Singapore team bounced back as they managed to get within one point, 5-4, towards the end of the match, but were unable to complete the comeback as they fell in the 10th set.
In the five-minute shootout between Santoro and Rafter, the Team India tennis star established an early 3-1 lead in the first 120 seconds before Rafter caught up. Unfortunately for the latter, his opponent took control of the remaining few minutes to escape with an 8-4 victory.
After the first two matches, the Indian Aces were ahead by three, 12-9.
The tide of the game changed when Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych took the court against Gael Monfils and Bopanna, who were easily defeated by their opponents, 6-2. The gap between the two sides was enough to put the Slammers ahead after the third match, 15-14.
However, Team Singapore's time on top would be short lived as Ivanovic, who was welcomed by the boisterous cheers of those present at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, dominated Hantuchova.
In just a matter of minutes, the former singles grand slam champion was already on top 5-0 and looked to attain an easy sweep. However, Hantuchova didn't give in easily as she caught fire in the right moment to build a 40-30 lead in the sixth set.
Ivanovic then took a gamble by using her untouched power point for an extra score that would ensure victory before a serve. The risk paid off, as Hantuchova committed an error that sealed her defeat, 6-0.
Entering the final match of the fixture, the Indian Aces, by aggregate, were already leading 20-15, and needed Monfils to not get swept in order to avoid defeat.
Monfils did much better, coming away with a 6-1 victory over Hewitt to add the icing on the cake for his squad.
He did, however, become the first player to suffer a shot clock violation, which took place in the fifth set of his match with Hewitt. The game's umpire awarded the latter with a 15-0 score following the violation, and neglected to take back his decision despite Monfils' arguments.
"I think everyone found the 20-second rule quite interesting. It was very fast," Ivanovic later commented about the change in playing format. "It was a little bit faster, and also a little bit more dynamic."
The Indian Aces will be back in action on Saturday, November 28, when they take on the Team Manila Mavericks.
"It's going to be an exciting match tomorrow (Saturday) night, especially playing against the home team," said Ivanovic, who will go up against Maria Sharapova.
Bopanna and Mirza d. Soares and Hantuchova, 6-4
Santora d. Rafter, 6-5 (8-4 in the tiebreaker)
Kyrgios and Berdych d. Monfils and Bopanna, 6-2
Ivanovic d. Hantuchova, 6-0
Monfils d. Hewitt, 6-1