IPTL 2015: Indian Aces take convincing victory over Philippine Mavericks as Bopanna excels
In the most recent tie between these two teams, the Indian Aces came out on top on their home turf – and in absolutely dominating fashion too, as they closed the set out 30-12. Prior to that, however, the teams had taken each other on in Manila in an intensely closely-fought contest that went down to the wire, and ended in Canadian Milos Raonic beating the Aces’ star Rafael Nadal in the shootout.
The Mavericks had taken that tie 25-24, and the Dubai fans would have been hoping to see another closely-fought contest. However, with significant changes to the lineups of both teams, the past matches couldn’t be used as an indication of the likely result. As it turned out, the Indian Aces continued their winning run, comfortably defeating the Raonic-less Mavericks.
Here’s how the tie unfolded:
Legends’ singles: Rohan Bopanna (Indian Aces) vs James Blake (Philippine Mavericks)
It was announced just prior to the tie that the Aces’ coach Fabrice Santoro would not be participating in the legends’ singles. Left without a captain, legend and coach, the Indian Aces nominated Rohan Bopanna to play in the legends’ singles set.
Santoro's counterpart Mark Philippoussis, who has long struggled with knee injury and wears braces at the IPTL, also chose not to participate in today’s tie. The Mavericks played American former World No. 4 James Blake in his place.
Blake, who made his IPTL debut against the UAE Royals yesterday, kicked off the tournament with a victory. He took Goran Ivanisevic to a tiebreak, playing a cleaner game than the quick-serving Croat to eventually win the set.
Most would have expected the American to come out on top today too; he’s a known singles exponent, while the skilled Bopanna is known primarily for his doubles prowess. None of that appeared to matter in the tie today though, with Blake getting bageled by a quick Bopanna, who committed just three unforced errors to Blake’s seven.
Closing out the set in dominating fashion, Bopanna gave the Indian Aces the lead.
Result: Bopanna def. Blake 6-0
Women’s singles: Agnieszka Radwanska (Indian Aces) vs Ajla Tomljanovic (Philippine Mavericks)
World No. 5 and WTA Finals winner Agnieszka Radwanska seemed primed to rout the 65th ranked Tomljanovic, who most recently lost to Swiss teen Belinda Bencic. For her part, Radwanska won each of the singles sets she played in the Delhi leg, and was in terrific form coming into the tie.
The Pole was tested by the Australian, however, who hit more winners than her much higher-ranked competitor. But it was Radwanska who drew first blood against Tomljanovic, and although she got broken back, registered yet another break to take victory.
Although Tomljanovic managed more winners than Radwanska, the key to her loss lay in her 13 unforced errors, as Radwanska played a seamless game to clinch her fifth consecutive IPTL win.
Radwanska’s victory gave the Aces a 12-4 lead.
Result: Radwanska def. Tomljanovic 6-4
Mixed doubles: Dodig/Mirza (Indian Aces) vs Roger-Vasselin/Gajdosova (Philippine Mavericks)
The Aces initially began with their winning formula of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, who successfully broke their competitors and then held to take a 2-0 lead. The team then made their first substitution of the day, calling in one doubles ace for the other; Ivan Dodig came on to replace Bopanna, who still had another set to go, having played an extra one to kick off the tie.
Mirza and Bopanna had shown some immense athleticism as they managed end-to-end coverage of the court, forming what seemed like an impenetrable field on their side of the net. And they did not appear to lose much momentum as Dodig came on, leading 5-2 at one point as they served for the set.
However, a late charge from Roger-Vasselin and Gajdosova saw them break and hold as they narrowed the lead to 5-4. Dodig and Mirza, now serving for the set again, this time won it 6-4.
The win took the overall score to 18-8.
Following the mixed doubles was a break in play as unprecedented rain hit the Dubai courts.
Play would eventually resume over an hour later, with the men’s doubles and singles remaining.
Men’s doubles: Bopanna/Dodig (Indian Aces) vs Roger-Vasselin/Huey (Philippine Mavericks)
Despite playing effectively his third set of the tie, Bopanna did not at all appear to be fatigued. Both sides were essentially doubles strongholds, and the match was predictably neck and neck, although Dodig and Bopanna hit a mammoth 18 winners during the course of the set.
Each held their serve to level at 5-5 as the set eventually went to a shootout. The Aces pair would win that 7-2 to take the set 6-5.
Bopanna and Dodig’s win would take the set score to 6-5, making the Aces’ lead even more insurmountable. They led 24-13 at that point.
Result: Bopanna/Dodig def. Roger-Vasselin/Huey 6-5
Men’s singles: Bernard Tomic (Indian Aces) vs Ivo Karlovic (Philippine Mavericks)
While Tomic was fresh off a loss to the UAE Royals’ Philipp Kohlschreiber in yesterday’s tie, big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, in his IPTL debut, beat the great Roger Federer on the latter’s home ground.
But today it was Tomic who got the crucial break, and he took care of his own serve remarkably well. Committing fewer errors than his opponent, the Australian maintained the Indian Aces’ perfect record, sealing the final set 6-4.
The Aces, who by then had already won the tie, ended on a high with a 30-17 finish.
Result: Tomic def. Karlovic 6-4