|Posted on December 8, 2015 at 7:55 PM|
IPTL 2015: UAE Royals hold their nerve to edge past Singapore Slammers
The UAE Royals came into this tie looking to end their losing streak, having slumped in quick succession to two opponents. Their most recent defeat was to the Indian Aces and their marquee signing Rafael Nadal, who made his IPTL debut yesterday as he led his side to a strong victory.
The Royals and the Slammers had locked horns before – in the first match of the tournament, which kicked off last week in Kobe, Japan. On that occasion, the Royals had taken a convincing 26-20 victory, and their fans were hoping for a repeat of that performance today.
And that's exactly what happened, although the margin was much closer this time. Here’s how the day’s matches unfolded:
Women’s singles: Ana Ivanovic (UAE Royals) vs Karolina Pliskova (Singapore Slammers)
While the Slammers’ Belinda Bencic, who took court against former World No. 1 Ana Ivanvoic in the pair’s last tie, had been expected to play her again, the team opted instead for Karolina Pliskova.
Although Ivanovic won her last tie against the Slammers 6-3, she faltered during several moments in the match against the 18-year-old Swiss. Adding to her woes, Pliskova has beaten the Serb in both of their previous meetings. Ivanovic also holds the ignominous title of the second most double faults on the leaderboard this IPTL, having committed 10 already.
The pair played a tight game today, with virtually nothing separating the two, as Pliskova even hit 12 winners to Ivanovic’s nine. She committed more unforced errors than the Serb, however, with 17 to the former No. 1’s 13, and it was that that led to her loss.
Ivanovic took the set in a shooting, giving the Royals a 6-5 lead.
Result: Ivanovic def. Pliskova 6-5
Men's Legend Singles: Goran Ivanisevic (UAE Royals) vs Carlos Moya (Singapore Slammers)
Although Ivanisevic has rediscovered some of his glory days’ play, bringing out his characteristically strong serve, he had gone down in his past two sets to fellow legends Mark Philippoussis and Fabrice Santoro. The Croat beat Moya 6-3 earlier though, and that likely heartened the Royals' legend and former World No. 2 as he unleashed his power against the Spaniard.
Ivanisevic hit seven winners en route to his eventual victory over Moya, who managed five and was only able to break his adversary once during the course of the match. The Croat’s win strengthened the Royals’ lead to 12-9.
Result: Ivanisevic def. Moya 6-4
Mixed Doubles: Daniel Nestor/Kristina Mladenovic (UAE Royals) vs Nick Kyrgios/Belinda Bencic (Singapore Slammers)
Most had expected the Slammers to play their doubles experts Marcelo Melo and Karolina Pliskova, with the team favouring Pliskova over Bencic in the singles. This time, however, they played the fiery Nick Kyrgios, who has been in good form through the tournament, with Bencic, who has had her moments as well.
The Royals' two-time Grand Slam winning pair beat the Slammers in the last tie, but have sufffered subsequent losses with disappointing performances, repeatedly netting volleys.
Kyrgios and Bencic played a strong game today, mustering four aces to the Royals pair's three. But it was the Franco-Canadian pair who eventually outplayed their opponents, hitting 13 winners on their way to a 6-4 victory, taking a third straight set for the UAE Royals.
Their victory took the UAE Royals to 18-13 against their opponents.
Result: Nestor/Mladenovic def. Kyrgios/Bencic 6-4
Men’s Doubles: Berdych/Nestor (UAE Royals) vs Kyrgios/Melo (Singapore Slammers)
This set was pretty even, with each team comprising one singles and one doubles exponent. In the last tie between the Royals and Slammers, the Singapore side had played the flamboyant German ace Dustin Brown with Brazilian doubles ace Melo. The two pairs played an explosive, close game of tennis in which the Royals only managed to edge out the Slammers’ side 6-5.
Kyrgios has been on song this league, and although he lost the mixed doubles set just prior, he played some strong shots and an aggressive, quick game to unsettle his opponents. Between his firepower and Melo’s skill and experience, the pair thoroughly routed their UAE Royals opponents, beating them 6-2 as they struck nine winners.
The win, coupled with fairly close losses in the previous sets, helped the Slammers narrow their deficit to the Royals, who now led 20-19.
Result: Kyrgios/Melo def. Berdych/Nestor 6-2
Men’s Singles: Tomas Berdych (UAE Royals) vs Nick Kyrgios (Singapore Slammers)
Berdych came into today’s match on the back of a loss to Rafael Nadal, although he was heartened by the fact that former World No. 1 Nadal, who is only one spot ahead of him in the rankings, edged him out by a single game. He was also upset by Milos Raonic of the Philippine Mavericks in his previous tie, and found himself thoroughly routed by Nick Kyrgios 2-6 last week.
Making matters worse for Berdych was the fact that Kyrgios was also in form coming into the final set of the day, having just won his previous set – a set Berdych had just lost.
Despite his eventual loss, the temperamental Australian hit four aces to the Czech’s single one – but committed over twice as many unforced errors as his opponent, who hit 10 winners to Kyrgios’ 9. Berdych controlled most of the baseline rallies with his powerful groundstrokes, and Kyrgios seemed to run out of gas by the end.
Berdych's eventual 6-4 win closed out the game, set and match for the UAE Royals.
Result: Berdych def. Kyrgios 6-4
Final result: UAE Royals def. Singapore Slammers 26-23