IPTL 2016: Day 2 continues as Indian Aces fight to second win
The Indian Aces won by a single point.
Following their Day 1 victory over the hosts, Japan Warriors, the Indian Aces, led by Swedish coach/captain Thomas Enqvist, powered to a second consecutive win, this time over the Singapore Slammers.
The day kicked off with the Men’s Legend Singles as former World No. 1 Carlos Moya, who lost last night, taking on Aces Captain Enqvist.
Men’s Legend Singles:
Former World No. 1 Carlos Moya, who was recently relieved of coaching duties by No. 4 Milos Raonic, played some great tennis today. The Spaniard fought off a strong attack from his Swedish rival, who finished the runner-up at the Australian Open in 1999. With both players holding early on, it was Moya who used his Power Point to break early and hold, giving him a 2-game lead.
Enqvist fought back to make it 4-5 quickly, but in the end it was Moya who would hold on for a win.
Result: Carlos Moya bt Thomas Enqvist 6-4
Former top-10 player Marcos Baghdatis has been having a bit of a lull on the ATP Tour, but the power-hitter with the strong backhand put up a fight today. Up against doubles expert Feliciano Lopez, who is also a top-30 singles player, the Cypriot flagged early on.
The agile Spaniard took the lead early on and with a constant attack against Baghdatis, raced to a 4-1 lead.
Some power-hitting by Baghdatis pulled scores back a little as he trailed 3-5, with Baghdatis pummeling in some powerful shots.
In the end, it was a couple of big shots from Lopez that would win him that tie as the Aces leveled with the Slammers at 10-10.
Result: Lopez bt Baghdatis 6-4
The men’s doubles saw young (and troubled) ATP star Nick Kyrgios, who one might have expected to play the men’s singles, take the fore, partnering doubles specialist Marcelo Melo for the Singapore Slammers.
Brazilian Melo, who will wear a black ribbon all through the IPTL in honour of the tragic incident that saw Brazilian football club Chapecoense lose their lives in an air crash, looked sombre, but put in some powerful tennis today.
Up against his own former partner, Ivan Dodig of the Indian Aces, Melo would have had an easier time given he knows his rival well – but the Aces had two doubles aces up their sleeve with Grand Slam winner Feliciano Lopez in the ring.
But singles expert Kyrgios, who despite his issues on and off court has won three titles on the ATP Tour – including an ATP500 title – proved a worthy doubles player as well. The Austro-Brazilian combine worked well to take the first break – in the 9th game of that tie, to lead 5-4, with both pairs running a tight ship to stay level until that point.
Eventually, Melo and Kyrgios – quite a new doubles pairing, took a convincing victory. A pair for the future perhaps?
Result: Melo/Kyrgios bt Dodig/Lopez 6-4
Experts have been watching the all-Indian combine of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna today, and the World No. 1 women’s doubles player saw a bit of slacking in their partnership yesterday, as the two skilled players managed only a 6-5 win despite some power points in their tie against the Japan Warriors. That said, they were up against former singles No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, one of the most aggressive players on the tour.
Today, it was Mirza who pulled out all the stops to draw first blood in the match, giving the Aces a lead that would eventually win them the match against Marcelo Melo and Kiki Bertens.
The aces’ win took the teams level in the face-off, with the women's singles left to go.
Result: Mirza/Bopanna bt Bertens/Melo 6-4
Indian Aces 20 – 20 Singapore Slammers
It was now up to the final tie to determine which team would take the win today. The experienced Kirsten Flipkens took the helm for the Aces, up against Dutch professional Kiki Bertens.
Despite that experience, however, it was Bertens who took the early lead with a break of serve; Flipkens then followed that up as she initiated an epic rally with her Dutch rival, and although Bertens was in a position to serve for the set – and eventually, the tie, Flipkens tied at 5-5 to initiate a shoot out, as the league does not play tiebreaks.
Under the rules of the shootout, players are allocated 5 minutes, with whoever is leading at the end of that time declared the winner.
Flipkens would finish on top in the shootout, giving the Aces the win – and the tie against the Slammers by a single point.
Result: Flipkens bt Bertens 6-5
Indian Aces bt Singapore Slammers 26-25