Aces prevail in shootout; Royals win

Only on a handful of occasions has tennis in India drawn such attention. The Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, decked up in a new avatar, was almost filled to the brim.

The package of top stars in action, foot-tapping music, snazzy laser lightening and glamorous cheerleaders hit the right notes with the audience, the “fast-food tennis” accepted with warmth and emerging the winner.

 In the Delhi leg of International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the UAE Royals beat Singapore Slammers 29-16 and Indian Aces defeated Manilla Maverick 26-25 in super shoot-out.

The combination of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna opened the campaign for Indian Aces against Kirsten Flipkins and Daniel Nestor in a quality contest. With crowd cheering for their every shot, Sania and Bopanna too rustled up inspired tennis, albeit in a losing cause. The Indians had won five out of their six matches before coming here but lost out in the shootout 6-5(8-6) following a tie at 5-5.  

 But Mark Philippoussis beat Cedric Pioline 6-4 in the clash of past champions and the tandem of Bopanna and Gael Monfils edged past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Treat Huey in an thrilling contest 6-5(7-6) to bring the Aces right on track.

Frenchmen Monfils and Tsonga brought their athletic brand of tennis before the former won 6-4. In the decisive fifth rubber, World No five Ana Ivanovic asserted her class over Flipkins with a 6-2 victory to level the scores at 25-25, thus enforcing a seven-minute super shoot-out involving Tsonga and Monfils. Monfils came all guns blazing to win 10-7 and cementing the top place for the Aces with 24 points.

In the first tie between Royals and Slammers, yesteryear’s enigmatic star Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter charmed in the past champions’ singles. Ivanisevic beat Patrick Rafter 6-2, the meeting a throwback to the Croat’s 2001 Wimbledon title victory over the Australian. Ivanisevic, who earlier watched his current ward and 2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic defeat Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 in the opening match, was in his element. If he was miffed with the ball boy for giving him the ball late, minutes later he was goading the fans to kick up the decibels. 

An “I love you Goran” cry from the crowd prompted a flying kiss from him to rapturous greeting.

Results: UAE Royals bt Singapore Slammers: 29-16 (Marin Cilic bt Lleyton Hewitt 6-3; CIlic/Nenad Zimonjic bt Nicl Kyrgios/Hewitt 6-2; Goran Ivanisevic bt Patrick Rafter 6-1; Kristina Mladenovic/Zimonjic bt Hantuchova/Kyrgios 6-4; Caroline lost to Daniela Hantuchova 5-6).

Indian Aces bt Manila Mavericks: 26-25 (Sania Mirza/Rohan Bopanna lost to Kirsten Flipkins/Daniel Nestor 5-6(6-8); Mark Philippoussis bt Cedric Pioline 6-4; Gael Monfils/Bopanna bt Huey/Nestor 6-5(7-6); Monfils lost to Tsonga 4-6; Super shootout Monfils bt Tsonga 10-7).

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