It's Federer show all the way as Aces thrive

Bopanna, Sania too join the party in easy victory

It's Federer show all the way as Aces thrive

Much before the Swiss champion Roger Federer was seen enjoying a hitting session with friend and former great Pete Sampras, the fans, decked up in ‘RF’ T-shirts and caps, were queuing up to the stands. In sweat-soaked blue T-shirt and shorts, a slight grin escaped the master and followed that characteristic stiff wave of right hand as the excitement of fans reached a crescendo.

Between them, Sampras and Federer share unprecedented 31 Grand Slam singles titles. To witness the two stalwarts within a frame was an astounding and hair-raising moment for many present at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here. Sought by every eye, screamed for in breathless restlessness by adoring fans, Federer, turning out for the first time in the league, reciprocated by featuring in three back-to- back matches, as Indian Aces blew away Singapore Slammers 26-16 to consolidate their place on the top of the table.

The 33-year-old’s genius was for all to see, his finesse and class stamped all through the clashes on the fast and bouncy surface. For Indian stars, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna it was a moment to cherish for lifetime as the two partnered the Swiss in the mixed doubles and men’s doubles sets.

The way Federer glided through his sets, it never gave one the impression that he had arrived only on the wee hours of Sunday.  His rasping forehand was lethal this day, he volleyed with flair and his service games were finished within minutes. The new rules might have “scrambled” his brain, as he confessed later, but at least the results didn’t betray the confusion.

 Combining with Saina Mirza in mixed doubles, he was lightening quick in pouncing at the ball and ferocious in going for the kill at the net. Some of his interceptions simply caught the opponents off guard. Sania, too, complemented, by producing power-packed returns. The two outclassed Daniela Hantuchova and Bruno Soares 6-0 after Sampras began the Aces campaign on a false note, going down 2-6 to Patrick Rafter, who came firing on all cylinders.

Federer later revealed that he had played mixed doubles before this only thrice- with Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova and his wife Mirka.

With Bopanna, Federer produced another entertaining display of doubles tennis against Slammers’ Australian duo of Nick Kyrgious and Llyeton Hewitt.  Federer again led the show even though Bopanna was soon to come on his own with fine serving and good returns, even receiving a compliment from the Swiss.

With the set in pocket at 6-2, Federer then turned attention to the men’s singles rubber against World No 7 Tomas Berdych. After surviving a few anxious moments, it didn’t take the World No 2 to find his range, resulting in delectable angles that made his winners a sight to behold. With a decisive break in the ninth game, he served out the set before joining teammate Gael Monfils in shaking a leg to peppy music.

In the last rubber, Anna Ivanovic overcame Hantuchova 6-5 in the in the women’s singles contest to complete a successful day for the Aces, and a memorable one for those present.

DH News Service
Results: Indian Aces bt Singapore Slammers 26-16 (Pete Sampras lost to Patrick Rafter 2-6; Roger Federer/Sania Mirza bt Daniela Hantuchova/Bruno Soares 6-0; Federer/Rohan Bopanna bt Llyeton Hewitt/Nick Kyrgios  6-1; Roger Federer bt Tomas Berdych 6-4; Ana Ivanovic bt Hantuchova 6-5).

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