2014 champions Indian Aces have a lot of work to do before they play the final of the 2016 International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) against the defending champions Singapore Slammers at Hyderabad today. A day before the summit clash, the hosts ended up on the losing side after going down 20-24 to the bottom-placed UAE Royals.
Despite the loss, the Aces still hold on to their top spot in the table standings with a four-point margin over the 2015 winners Singapore Slammers.
Here’s how the Aces vs Royals tie unfolded:
Royals’ Thomas Johansson played some impeccable serve and volleys to take away the game from the big-serving Mark Philippoussis of the Aces. The 2002 Australian Open winner raced out to a 5-0 lead before his Australian opponent could even get on the board.
Philippoussis did manage to break back but by then it was too late. Johansson wrapped up the set, 6-2.
Result: Thomas Johansson (UAE Royals) bt Mark Philippoussis (Indian Aces) 6-2
Kirsten Flipkens pulled one back for the Aces as she beat the former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic. The Belgian got off to a blazing start, breaking the Serb’s serve for 2-0.
Ivanovic briefly stalled Flipkens’s momentum by breaking back for 3-3. However, the former World No. 1 could not prevent Flipkens from securing another crucial break of serve for a 6-3 win.
Result: Kirsten Flipkens (Indian Aces) bt Ana Ivanovic (UAE Royals)
After losing her singles set, Ivanovic came back to the court once more for the mixed doubles set where she partnered the legendary Daniel Nestor against the Aces pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna.
The two teams were on par till 2-2 after which the Royals pair was the first one to draw blood. They went up 4-2 only to see the Indians coming back to get within 3-4.
However, the Aces were let down by a poor service game and the Royals inched ahead 5-3 before claiming a 6-3 victory.
Result: Ivanovic/Nestor (UAE Royals) bt Mirza/Bopanna 6-3
The Aces salvaged some pride in the next set which was the men’s doubles. Both the teams – Nestor and Pablo Cuevas of the Royals and Bopanna and Ivan Dodig of the Aces – were engaged in some gritty shotmaking in the initial part of the set.
The Aces pair then distanced themselves in the eighth game as they grabbed a decisive break that ultimately gifted them a 6-3 win.
Result: Dodig/Bopanna (Indian Aces) bt Nestor/Cuevas (UAE Royals) 6-3
It was then all down to UAE Royals’ star player Tomas Berdych to do the needful and he did not disappoint the visitors. Even though Aces’ Dodig played some intelligent tennis to keep Berdych in check, the World No. 10 finally found the opening in the eighth game with the help of a Power Point.
He marched ahead to 5-3 that helped to fetch the 6-3 win soon after.
Result: Tomas Berdych (UAE Royals) bt Ivan Dodig (Indian Aces) 6-3
Overall result: UAE Royals bt Indian Aces 24-20