On the last day of the Indian leg of the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the crowd saw the Indian Aces take on the UAE Royals. The final match of the day resulted in a 29-22 win for the UAE Royals over the home side.
The biggest attraction of this eagerly-anticipated match of the Happiness Open was the set between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. But the Royals dominated the match by the time we reached the men’s singles set, and they ultimately closed down the deficit on the Aces in the overall standings to just three points.
Here is how the action unfolded:
Women’s singles: Kristina Mladenovic (UAE Royals) vs Ana Ivanovic (Indian Aces)
The first set of the match between the Serb and the Frenchwoman was a really tight encounter. Kristina Mladenovic replaced Caroline Wozniacki in the Royals’ line-up, and came out on top with a narrow 6-5 win to get the Royals to a good start.
Ivanovic was actually serving for the set at 5-3, but she let the advantage slip away with some nervous play. Mladenovic was far steadier in the shoot-out, and emerged as the deserving winner.
Result: Mladenovic (UAE Royals) beat Ivanovic (Indian Aces) 6-5.
Legends’ singles: Goran Ivanisevic (UAE Royals) vs Fabrice Santoro/Pete Sampras (Indian Aces)
The New Delhi crowd was lucky to get a rematch of the iconic rivalry between Ivanisevic and Sampras. But the American looked off-colour throughout, and while trailing 1-5, retired hurt with a pulled hamstring.
Fabrice Santoro tried hard to evade defeat and won two games in a row. The two played one of the longest rallies of the tournament, where the Frenchman absorbed all of Ivanisevic’s power until the Croat’s forehand hit the net. However, Ivanisevic then brought out his mammoth serve, and he finally succeeded in winning the second set for UAE Royals.
Result: Ivanisevic (UAE Royals) beat Santoro/Sampras (Indian Aces) 6-3.
Mixed doubles: Zimonjic/Mladenovic (UAE Royals) vs Federer/Mirza (Indian Aces)
Roger Federer came in as a late subsitute for Rohan Bopanna to do some damage control for the Indian Aces, but the fiery Kristina Mladenovic along with Nenad Zimonjic were not to be denied.
Fresh from her win over Ivanovic, Mladenovic was on fire again, and with Zimonjic’s support took a good lead against Bopanna and Mirza. The original choice of the Aces to go with the all-Indian pair was changed after four games of play, and the Swiss master Roger Federer stepped in with the Aces trailing 2-4.
But Mirza couldn’t hold on to her serve, and Mladenovic then calmly served out the set.
Result: Zimonjic/Mladenovic (UAE Royals) beat Federer/Mirza (Indian Aces) 6-2.
Men’s doubles: Zimonjic/Djokovic (UAE Royals) vs Federer/Monfils (Indian Aces)
It is just not possible for a Federer-Djokovic match to be devoid of twists and turns. Their doubles match at Delhi was no different, as both the players fought tooth and nail to outlast the other. At 4-4, Djokovic replaced Marin Cilic and the crowd were given a sample of what they would witness when the World No. 1 would lock horns with the World No. 2 in the last set of the match.
However, the Serb was not able to help the Royals win their fourth set in a row. Instead, it was the Indian Aces’ Federer and Monfils who emerged victorious, as the Swiss sealed the set with an stunning backhand return.
Result: Federer/Monfils (Indian Aces) beat Djokovic/Zimonjic (UAE Royals) 6-5.
Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic (UAE Royals) vs Roger Federer (Indian Aces)
The most anticipated set of the entire Indian leg saw the World No. 1 and World No. 2 go head-to-head in a singles match. The set was expected to go to the wire, and it did.
After an exchange of breaks, the scores were locked at 5-5, and it was time for the five-minute shoot-out. Djokovic came up with a breathtaking backhand crosscourt winner to take a 3-2 lead, before missing an easy overhead for 3-3.
This was no exhibition match, as both Djokovic and Federer played with the same fire and intensity that they exhibit in a Grand Slam final. Federer eventually won the shoot-out, 6-5.
Result: Federer (Indian Aces) beat Djokovic (UAE Royals) 6-5.
As the Indian Aces won the last game and were trailing the UAE Royals 22-28, Federer and Djokovic had to continue playing till either the Serb won a game or Federer won six straight games. The crowd was thankful that it came down to this, as they could see the two greats play a little longer.
Unfortunately for the fans though, there was just a single extra game played as Djokovic held serve in the very next game to seal the match for the UAE Royals 29-22.Published 08 Dec 2014, 23:10 IST