After a disastrous end to the Japan leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the Indian Aces returned to form on Tuesday like the champions they once were. The 2014 winners avenged Sunday’s defeat with a thunderous 26-19 win over the UAE Royals to start off their Singapore sojourn on a memorable note.
Losing their biggest star Roger Federer – who was supposed to helm the team in the India leg – due to demonetization issues clearly could not dampen the spirits of the rest of the Aces. It was an all-round contribution from every member, each of whom looked upbeat and ready to grab a win this time.
With this triumph, the India franchise is now the sole holder of the top spot with 10 points.
Here’s how the tie unfolded:
Ana Ivanovic’s 2016 IPTL debut did not go the way she would have liked. The former French Open champion, who joined the UAE Royals at Singapore, did not look comfortable against the Aces’ Kirsten Flipkens right from the beginning.
Broken in the very first game, the Serb struggled for most part of the set except towards the end when she managed to break back Flipkens to get within 2-4. Her resurgence was too late for the Belgian wrapped up the set 6-3 soon after.
Result: Flipkens (Indian Aces) bt Ivanovic (UAE Royals) 6-3
How fortunes change in just two days! On Sunday when the Aces’ Sania Mirza/Rohan Bopanna and the Royals’ Martina Hingis/Pablo Cuevas locked horns, the former were thumped 6-4 by the Royals duo.
Two days later in a new city, it was now the turn of the Indians to dominate. It is interesting to note that Cuevas and Hingis were the first ones to break but saw their advantage getting nullified in a matter of a few minutes.
The Aces finally carved out a crucial break of serve in the eighth game for 5-3 that ultimately rewarded them the win.
Result: Mirza/Bopanna (Indian Aces) bt Hingis/Cuevas (UAE Royals) 6-3
With his exquisite serve-and-volleying, Thomas Johansson had defused the big-serving game of Aces’ Mark Philippoussis at Tokyo. This time, however, the Australian was careful not to repeat the same mistakes.
Aggressive returns helped him turn the tables and ‘The Scud’ was in control of the proceedings right from the start as he led 3-1. The Swede ran close after that but could not breach the impenetrable service games of the Aussie, who rode on his gigantic serves for a 6-3 win.
Result: Mark Philippoussis (Indian Aces) bt Thomas Johansson (UAE Royals) 6-3
World No. 10 Tomas Berdych had absolutely no problems in dismissing the Aces’ Feliciano Lopez just like he did on Sunday. The Czech raced off to 4-0 in no time with two quick service breaks as his lefty opponent struggled to provide any resistance.
It was not until the fifth game that the Spaniard was on the board. Power Point came to his rescue and gave a brief reprieve from the Berdych onslaught as Lopez closed in to 2-4. Berdych soon regrouped and finished with a resounding 6-2 triumph.
Result: Tomas Berdych (UAE Royals) bt Feliciano Lopez (Indian Aces) 6-2
The Aces launched Ivan Dodig this time instead of Rohan Bopanna alongside Feliciano Lopez and it worked brilliantly. The Croatian-Spanish duo ripped apart the Royals’ Daniel Nestor and Pablo Cuevas for a deserving victory that helped stretch their overall lead further.
The India franchise made in-roads into their opponents’ serves in the fifth game for a 3-2 advantage. That was all they needed as they held on it till the end for a 6-4 victory.
Result: Dodig/Lopez (Indian Aces) bt Nestor/Cuevas (UAE Royals) 6-4
Overall result: Indian Aces bt UAE Royals 26-19