|Posted on December 7, 2015 at 2:00 PM|
Berdych puts up spirited performance against Nadal
Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych of the UAE Royals returns a shot to Spain's Rafael Nadal of the Indian Aces during the Men's singles match in the 2015 International Premier Tennis League Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, at the Mall of Asia Arena at suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. Nadal won over Berdych 6-5.
Indian Aces take convincing victory over UAE Royals as Nadal makes debut
The UAE Royals had looked very strong coming into this match, having lost only one of their ties so far – yesterday, against home side Philippine Mavericks. Neither team lacked for firepower, with a former World No. 1 on each side.
‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal, the marquee signing and captain of the Indian Aces, made his IPTL debut today, walking onto court to thunderous applause and cheers from the Manila crowd.
The Aces came up trumps, putting in strong performances across the board to see them take a very strong victory.
Mixed Doubles: Sania Mirza/Rohan Bopanna (Indian Aces) vs Kristina Mladenovic/Daniel Nestor (UAE Royals)
Each player on court has won a Grand Slam, but in the case of Mladenovic and Nestor, they have two titles together. Bopanna and Doubles World No. 1 Mirza were in fine form today, moving quickly across court as they hit a mammoth 6 aces, their competitors managing only one in return.
With 13 winners, they managed twice as many as their competitors, who hit six.
The all-Indian Indian Aces pair took a 6-4 victory, giving their team a 6-4 lead.
Result: Mirza/Bopanna def. Mladenovic/Nestor 6-4
Women's Singles: Samantha Stosur (Indian Aces) vs Ana Ivanovic sub. Kristina Mladenovic (UAE Royals)
Australian Stosur came into this tie on the back of consecutive losses to Maria Sharapova and Karolina Pliskova, and was up today against a former world no. 1 in Ana Ivanovic, the favourite to win today’s tie.
Ivanovic, the stronger player today, was herself fresh off a loss to World No. 1 Serena Williams of the Philippine Mavericks yesterday, going down 6-3.
Stosur led Ivanovic in their head-to-head by a single match, but today obliterated the Serb, who had looked nervous and unsure in her tie yesterday. A faltering Ivanovic was replaced by Kristina Mladenovic, but the substitution provided no relief for the Royals, who lost to the fast serves of the Australian ace.
Stosur took a strong 6-3 victory to give her team, the Indian Aces, a 12-7 lead.
Result: Stosur def. Mladenovic 6-3
Men‘s Legend Singles: Fabrice Santoro (Indian Aces) vs Goran Ivanisevic (UAE Royals)
The Indian Aces’ French legend Santoro has beat the tall Croat in both their two previous career meetings, which would no doubt have been a relief for fans of the Aces. Ivanisevic has one of the strongest serves on court, however, and with an extensive arsenal of shots has already defeated former World No. 1 Marat Safin at this year’s IPTL. However, it’s been hit-and-miss for the Croat, who has only mustered 5 aces in a total of 3 sets he has played so far.
Santoro thoroughly outplayed Ivanisevic today. Although the pair hit an identical number of aces – 1 apiece – and 9 winners each, the key to Santoro’s victory lay in the fact that he committed only four unforced errors to his rival’s whopping 14.
He beat Ivanisevic 6-3, to take his team to an 18-10 lead.
Result: Santoro def. Ivanisevic 6-3
Men’s Doubles: Rafael Nadal/Ivan Dodig (Indian Aces) vs Daniel Nestor/Tomas Berdych (UAE Royals)
Each team in the tie now had one singles and doubles specialist apiece; the Royals came into today on the back of a 3-6 defeat at the hands of the French Manila Mavericks pair of Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, and did not have the momentum they may have needed.
Although Dodig previously partnered doubles champion Rohan Bopanna, today he played with former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal on his side. Dodig had been instrumental in his team’s previous victory over the Singapore Slammers, and brought that firepower to today’s match.
The Aces pair hit fewer aces than their competitors, but committed only 5 unforced errors to the Royals’ eight. Nadal looked to be on song as he glid around court to fend off the strong serves of Berdych, as the Indian Aces took victory and strengthened their extensive lead.
With a 6-3 victory, the Aces led 24-13.
Result: Nadal/Dodig def. Nestor/Berdych 6-3
Men's Singles: Rafael Nadal (Indian Aces) vs Tomas Berdych (UAE Royals)
This was the match most spectators had waited for. With the crowd already having erupted in cheers as Nadal took court ahead of the tie, he appeared to be the crowd favourite, and the former No. 1 did not disappoint.
Fresh off a surprise loss to the big-serving Milos Raonic of the Mavericks, Berdych may have been down– not good considering whom he had been up against. Add to this the obvious crowd support for Nadal, which would not have done Berdych’s morale any favours.
He had one major thing going for him, however – the Czech beat the Spanish ace earlier this year at the Australian Open, and would have taken away from that. Berdych did not go down quietly to Nadal by any means.
The Czech played out of his skin, moving across court with some strong serves as he managed to break Nadal twice during the course of the match. He also hit a mammoth five aces to Nadal’s single one, and took the final set to a shootout, which Nadal eventually took to seal the set 6-5.
The Aces sealed victory 30-18.
Standout performances from both Berdych and Nadal ensured an entertaining end to what was otherwise largely a one-sided draw.
Result: Nadal def. Berdych 6-5
Final result: Indian Aces def. UAE Royals 30-18