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IPTL 2015: Federer-Murray clash headlines Royals vs Slammers tie

Roger Federer Andy Murray Cincinnati Masters 2015
Federer is likely to clash with Andy Murray today
UAE Royals

This is the tie that tennis enthusiasts were looking forward to in the Dubai leg of the 2015 International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). In a second meeting between two ‘Big 4’ members, Roger Federer will be locking horns with Andy Murray as the UAE Royals host the Singapore Slammers at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Tuesday.

After a close 24-26 loss to the Philippine Mavericks, the onus will now be on Federer to be the Royals’ saviour for the rest of the IPTL2. His outing so far has not been fruitful and the Swiss needs to come up with a massive effort against the Murray-led Slammers, who are currently at No. 2 in the Team Standings.

(For tickets to UAE Royals matches, click here).

Will Federer & Co. be able to turn it around? We try to find out:

Women’s singles: Kristina Mladenovic vs Karolina Pliskova (probable)

This set will pit two friends Kristina Mladenovic and Karolina Pliskova opposite each other as both will seek to give a confident start to their respective teams. The two youngsters have comparably ferocious groundstrokes, which is probably why they are tied at one win apiece in their career head-to-head meetings.

The 23-year-old Pliskova has been one of the standout rising stars this season. Apart from her solitary title at home in Prague, the Czech also reached five other finals and made herself a threat to everybody on the Tour. Now perched at the 11th spot in the world rankings, she brought her firepower and ammunition to the IPTL2 and registered two singles wins out of three sets.

On the other hand, the 22-year-old Mladenovic, who is more known for her doubles proficiency, had to step in for the singles as the Royals’ leading singles player Ana Ivanovic’s obligations got over. Things did not start on an auspicious note for the Frenchwoman who lost her opener, but she bounced back with a 6-2 hammering of Ajla Tomljanovic of the Philippine Mavericks in the Royals’ first home tie.

The odds are in favour of Pliskova but Mladenovic can count on some valuable home support that will help boost her chances.

Men’s singles: Roger Federer vs Andy Murray (probable)

UAE Royals’ biggest star Roger Federer has lost each of the four sets he has played so far at the 2015 IPTL, and that is not good news for the team. Struggling for consistency in the previous legs, the Royals were looking forward to be bolstered by the Swiss maestro’s arrival but so far that has proved unsuccessful.

However, all of the losses for the World No. 3 have been in closely-contested sets. In his last outing against the Philippine Mavericks, the former World No. 1 faced the mammoth server Ivo Karlovic in singles. After being broken, the Swiss did a remarkable job of getting to deuce in the Croat’s service game as he was serving for the set. But Federer eventually fell short after a mighty effort.

The Swiss would surely be eager to reverse that result, and he would breathe easy that his next opponent – Andy Murray – does not bring the challenge of a nearly unbreakable serve. To add to that, the Scot has lost both their meetings this year.

But Murray has enough weapons other than the serve to give Federer a hard time. After a very consistent 2015 season, he would look forward to bringing the goods to the table and making this a highly entertaining showdown.

The World No. 2 is making his IPTL2 debut in this match and might take some time to adjust to the quirky format, which is where Federer has a slight advantage. With a bunch of sets already under his belt, Federer should be tipped to come through in this contest.

Legends’ singles: Goran Ivanisevic vs Carlos Moya (probable)

Unlike the above mentioned men’s and women’s singles sets, the legends’ clash remains the same and will be a repeat of Goran Ivanisevic and Carlos Moya’s Kobe and Manila acts. Both times, it was the 2001 Wimbledon winner Ivanisevic who emerged victorious over the 1998 French Open champion, and that bodes well for the home team.

The Croat’s forays into the net against the baseliner Moya have worked well so far as the Spaniard repeatedly got wrong-footed in the back-court. Ivanisevic would also be more motivated after his narrow shootout loss against Mavericks’ debutant James Blake on Monday evening.

This has all the ingredients to make for an exciting set, with the Royals player looking likely to have the final word.

Men’s doubles: Federer/Cilic vs Melo/Kyrgios (probable)

With Federer’s entry into the Dubai team, doubles exponent Daniel Nestor is being rested for a while as the Swiss and Marin Cilic are spearheading the attack. But the Swiss-Croatian combine has not met with success so far and has succumbed to two defeats.

Their job gets even tougher as they face the pair of Marcelo Melo and Nick Kyrgios next. Melo is the current World No. 1 in doubles and he has notched up two wins out of three sets alongside Nick Kyrgios. The Slammers duo clearly has far more confidence than their opponents.

It would be a tall order for the hosts but with Federer in the squad, their chances should never be ruled out.

Mixed doubles: Nestor/Mladenovic vs Brown/Pliskova (probable)

Marin Cilic was made to partner Kristina Mladenovic in mixed doubles against the Philippine Mavericks on Monday and that decision seemed to have backfired as the Royals duo were edged in a tie-break. The tried-and-tested multiple Slam-winning team of Mladenovic and Nestor would most probably be brought back as the Royals desperately search for a victory.

The Royals are a far more accomplished team but unfortunately for them, they have not been at their flawless best of late. Both the Canadian and the Frenchwoman have been erroneous, which has made things difficult for the Dubai franchise.

On the other hand, Dustin Brown and Karolina Pliskova are coming in on a hot streak of two wins. Both are armed with uber-attacking games and will look to make in-roads right from the word go.

Unless Nestor and Mladenovic are sharp and alert in this tie, they will likely not be able to come out of their slump.

Note: The singles and doubles match-ups are as per our assumptions for the most obvious player combinations. They are subject to change if one or more of the players are unavailable from either team, or if the team managements decide to change the combinations based on current form.


Edited by Staff Editor

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