On the last day of the Indian leg of the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis league, the crowd was entertained by a gritty performance by the Manila Mavericks. They faced the Singapore Slammers in the first match of the day, and although they trailed their opponents at the half-way stage, they regrouped in time to walk away with the win.
Here is a blow-by-blow account of how the match unfolded:
Men’s singles: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Manila Mavericks) vs Tomas Berdych (Singapore Slammers)
In the first set of the match, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was up against Czech Tomas Berdych. With an astonishing performance in his last match for Mavericks, Tsonga entered the match with a lot more confidence. Right from the start, he was hitting the turf hard and making it tough for Berdych. Tsonga won three games in a row to immediately put Berdych under pressure.
The Czech tried hard and managed to win the fourth game, but Tsonga was in no mood for mercy. His quick returns and blistering winners seemed to deflate Berdych. Tsonga served two strong aces in a row to make the score 5-2, at which point the Slammers subbed in Nick Kyrgios.
The young Aussie, however, was just as ineffective as Berdych and Tsonga won the last game, giving the Mavericks a great start.
Result: Tsonga (Manila Mavericks) beat Berdych (Singapore Slammers) 6-2.
Mixed doubles: Flipkens/Nestor (Manila Mavericks) vs Hantuchova/Krygios (Singapore Slammers)
The Mavericks went with the same line-up as the last match, which meant Flipkens-Nestor faced Krygios- Hantuchova in the mixed doubles. Hantuchova started steering the match in favour of the Slammers with her marvellous lobs and serves, and the Singapore team called a time-out when they were leading by 2-1.
After the break, the Slammers lost the Happiness Power Point as Flipkens-Nestor showed some quick thinking, which brought the set back on serve. Both teams then held serves and the score reached 3-3 amidst a flurry of quick winners and great net play.
But Krygios-Hantuchova were outstanding with their returns in the second half of the set, and they broke the Mavericks’ twice to quickly wrap up the set.
Result: Hantuchova/Krygios (Singapore Slammers) beat Flipkens/Nestor (Manila Mavericks) 6-3.
Women’s singles: Kirsten Flipkens (Manila Mavericks) vs Daniela Hantuchova (Singapore Slammers)
In the third set of the match, Daniela Hantuchova faced off against Kirsten Flipkens. Hantuchova was absolutely dominant in the set; her string of stone-cold winners were just fabulous to watch.
The Slovak broke Flipkens’ serve straight away and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But the Belgian charged back immediately to break the Hantuchova serve and make the score 2-1. Flipkens used her topspin forehand very well to give the Slovak a tough time.
But Hantchova wasn’t ready to give up. She broke the serve of the Belgian again and then didn’t gave her another chance for a comeback. The Slovak was on top of her game and won three games in a row to win the set rather comfortably.
Result: Hantuchova (Singapore Slammers) beat Flipkens (Manila Mavericks) 6-2.
Men’s doubles: Tsonga/Nestor (Manila Mavericks) vs Hewitt/Krygios (Singapore Slammers)
With the Slammers dominating the match up to this stage, the doubles set was crucial for the Mavericks. Tsonga-Nestor absolutely had to win this set to avoid overall defeat.
Much to the relief of the Mavericks’ camp, Tsonga-Nestor played according to their game plan and took a quick 3-0 lead over the rivals. They showed excellent coordination and deft skills to completely dominate the Aussie pairing.
Nestor was outstanding with both his serve and his return, and the Mavericks refused to show any mercy in this crucial set. With excellent lobs and returns from the Mavericks, the Slammers were slammed to all corners of the court and were not able to win a single game in the set.
Result: Tsonga/Nestor (Manila Mavericks) beat Hewitt/Krygios (Singapore slammers) 6-0.
Legends’ singles: Mark Philippoussis (Manila Mavericks) vs Patrick Rafter (Singapore Slammers)
The final and match-deciding set was between the legends, Mark Philippoussis and Patrick Rafter. Philippoussis was unbeaten throughout the tournament, having used his excellent serve as an important weapon. Rafter had three break points in the third game, but Phillippoussis unleashed his attacking game just in time, saving the game with a stunning backhand.
As the set progressed, Phillippoussis became increasingly potent with his single-handed backhand returns. Rafter tried everything in his repertoire, but Phillippoussis was not to be denied. With a searing ace at the end, Philippoussis won his seventh set of the league, maintaining his perfect record.
Result: Philippoussis (Manila Mavericks) beat Rafter (Singapore Slammers) 6-3.
With comfortable wins in the last two sets, the Manila Mavericks managed to grab victory from the jaws of defeat. With the win, the Mavericks move into second place in the standings of the ’Happiness Open’.
Manila Mavericks beat Singapore Slammers 23-17.