IPTL 2015: Indian Aces outclassed by in-form Singapore Slammers on Dubai soil
On the final day of the IPTL in Dubai, the in-form Indian Aces, table-toppers at this edition of the IPTL, took on the Singapore Slammers. World No. 2 Andy Murray recently made his debut for the Slammers, defeating longtime rival and World No. 3 Roger Federer in the tie against the UAE Royals yesterday.
Although the Indian Aces have been missing the services of their coach and legend Fabrice Santoro, who has missed the team’s last two ties due to illness, Santoro’s mentorship and the team's bonding have ensured they have remained a strong side individually and together.
The Singapore Slammers have been in good form themselves, and are currently positioned at second place in the standings, most recently defeating the otherwise strong UAE Royals.
The Singapore side looked in a position to pull off an upset – and that's exactly what they did. Here’s how the tie went.
Legends’ singles: Fabrice Santoro (Indian Aces) vs Carlos Moya (Singapore Slammers)
With legend and coach Fabrice Santoro ill, Rohan Bopanna had replaced the Frenchman in the Indian Aces’ tie against the Philippine Mavericks and he bageled former World No. 4 James Blake.
Today, however, he was disallowed from participating in the set, which resulted in a walkover for the Singapore Slammers as their legend Carlos Moya had no opponent. The walkover gave the Singapore Slammers a 6-0 lead.
Result: 6-0 to Carlos Moya
Women’s singles: Agnieszka Radwanska (Indian Aces) vs Belinda Bencic (Singapore Slammers)
WTA Finals winner and World No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska was the firm favourite to win, having emerged victorious in each of her five matches in the IPTL so far. With only nine games conceded since her IPTL debut this year, she’s easily one of the strongest players at the tournament.
But the 14th-ranked Swiss, only 18 years old, has shown immense promise already and has beaten the Pole once on the professional circuit.
Radwanska’s experience and momentum paid off today, however, as she broke Bencic three times, hitting eight winners and winning a mammoth 70% of her first serves to take a 6-3 victory.
Radwanska’s win shortened the Aces’ deficit to 6-9.
Result: Radwanska def. Bencic 6-3
Mixed doubles: Mirza/Bopanna (Indian Aces) vs Pliskova/Brown (Singapore Slammers)
World Doubles No. 1 Sania Mirza and partner Rohan Bopanna have both been in scintillating form this season. The two have shown superb athleticism and ball control that most other teams have not, managing end-to-end coverage of the court as they combat every shot hit at them.
Bopanna, incredibly proficient at the doubles, excelled yesterday in the singles too as he replaced Aces legend Santoro, bageling James Blake of the Philippine Mavericks. As a result, the Aces were, as usual, firm favourites for the mixed doubles set.
That in itself did not portend well for Pliskova and Brown, but they put up a tenacious fight against their significantly fancied opponents. Committing fewer errors than their opponents, the Slammers’ pair also pulled off some incredible volleys.
The extremely tall Singapore Slammers pair managed some great shots from the baseline too. With their powerful serves and large strides, they held firm as the two teams went to 5-5 in the set, which went to a shootout.
Brown and Pliskova won the shootout 7-5 to win the set 6-5. Their victory took the Slammers to a 15-11 lead.
Result: Pliskova/Brown def. Mirza/Bopanna 6-5
Men’s doubles: Dodig/Tomic (Indian Aces) vs Murray/Melo (Singapore Slammers)
Dodig and Melo, who won a Grand Slam together this year, found themselves on opposite sides of the net again. The Aces chose not to opt for doubles ace Rohan Bopanna, instead playing IPTL neophyte Bernard Tomic, which was possibly what led to their eventual downfall.
The Scottish-Brazilian Slammers pair, playing together for the first time today, hit 16 winners and showed strong coordination as they beat Dodig and Tomic 6-4.
Their victory gave the Slammers a 21-15 lead, meaning the Aces would have to bagel the Slammers in the men’s singles if they stood any chance in the day’s tie.
Result: Murray/Melo def. Dodig/Tomic 6-4
Men’s singles: Bernard Tomic (Indian Aces) vs Nick Kyrgios (Singapore Slammers)
Australian Bernard Tomic joined the Aces in Dubai, replacing former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal who had helped cement the Aces’ lead atop the league standings. The 18th-ranked player succumbed 3-6 to Philipp Kohlschreiber of the Japan Warriors in his debut, although he could take heart from having defeated big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic of the Mavericks.
Although Kyrgios and Tomic have never played one another before, they have been on the same doubles team in the past, and the compatriots would know the intricacies of each other’s game.
30th-ranked Kyrgios has been in brilliant nick all through the IPTL, and brought his immense momentum to the tie. He completely outplayed his higher-ranked rival, broke him twice in quick succession, hitting three times as many winners to take a 6-1 victory in the shortest set of the tie.
Kyrgios’ win sealed the tie for the Singapore Slammers, who won 27-16 overall.
Result: Kyrgios def. Tomic 6-1