IPTL Day Two Recap: Slammers Get First Win, Hosts Beaten Again
Serena Williams was in action on Thursday. Photo: IPTL

IPTL Day Two Recap: Slammers Get First Win, Hosts Beaten Again

On day two of the International Premier Tennis League, there were mixed fortunes for all four teams in play, with one tie being decided early, with the other coming down to the wire.

Pete Borkowski

Day two of the 2015 IPTL season saw four of the five teams in action in Kobe, Japan, including the Philippine Mavericks first tie of the season. There were blowouts and tight matches and drama galore. Here’s what happened on day two of the IPTL season.

Singapore Slammers vs Philippine Mavericks

In a tight tie where every set ended in the score 6-4, the Singapore Slammers got their first win of the season after losing their opener, defeating the Philippine Mavericks 26-24. The Mavericks were making their season debut.

The legends got the tie going with a tight battle between former Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Mark Philippoussis, appropriately battling for the Philippines, taking on former French Open Champion and world number one Carlos Moya. In a classic battle of offense vs. defense, it would be the big-serving Philippoussis overpowering the speedy Moya, despite only connecting on 48 percent of his first serves to give the Mavericks the early 6-4 lead.

Things seemed to be going the Mavericks way going into the women’s singles, as Serena Williams was making her return to tennis for the first time since the US Open. However, her return was spoiled by Karolina Pliskova, who took down the current world number one 6-4 to even the tie, thanks to 13 unforced errors from Williams.

The Singapore Slammers: (from left to right) Carlos Moya, Dustin Brown, Belinda Bencic and Nick Kyrgios. Photo: IPTL

The Mavericks would quickly regain the lead courtesy of the all-French men’s doubles pair of Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who defeated Dustin Brown and current doubles world number one Marcelo Melo. There was very little between the two teams, but Gasquet and Roger-Vasselin were slightly stronger on serve, limiting their opponents to a single break point. Melo and Roger-Vasselin then both pulled double duty to turn around and play mixed doubles. This time, fortunes were reversed as it would be Melo and his partner Belinda Bencic coming out of top, breaking three times to top Roger-Vasselin and Jarmila Gajdosova.

With the overall score tied at 20-20, the tie would be decided by the men’s singles match between the young IPTL debutants, Milos Raonic for the Mavericks and Nick Kyrgios for the Slammers. The pair had met twice before, both times at Wimbledon with each man winning once in four sets. Raonic had not played since the Shanghai Masters back in October and was caught on the back foot against the big-hitting Kyrgios. The controversial Aussie outhit Raonic, hitting five aces to the Canadian’s one, and thirteen winners to Raonic’s eight. In the end, two breaks was enough for the 6-4 win, which handed Singapore the 26-24 victory.

OBI UAE Royals vs Legendari Japan Warriors

The host Japan Warriors are still looking for their first win of the season, falling to 0-2 after getting swept be the 2-0 UAE Royals. The Royals won all five sets, claiming victory by a final score of 30-15.

Photo: Daniel Nestory (left) and Kristina Mladenovic (right) during their blowout win. Photo: IPTL

The Royals got off to a perfect start when Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic swept Maria Sharapova and Leander Paes, who replaced Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-0. Nestor and Mladenovic have won two Grand Slam titles together, so their dominant victory came as no surprise against the mish-mash team of Sharapova and Paes/Herbert. Sharapova got the Warriors on the board in the women’s singles, but she was unable to close the gap as struggles on big points allowed Ana Ivanovic to take her down 6-4. She was 2-5 on break points and 1-2 on deciding points on her own serve.

Goran Ivanisevic kept the landslide going, out muscling two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin for the 6-4 win to give the Royals an almost insurmountable lead. Safin actually hit more winners than the 2001 Wimbledon champion without giving up more errors. However, he failed to save any break points and only mustered one on his own. Nestor would return to clinch the tie, this time along side Tomas Berdych. The pair only needed three games to clinch the tie, but did it in style by winning the set 6-4 over Paes and Herbert. They saved four of six break points, converting three of their own and dominated at the net, winning eight of ten points. With the final set, essentially a dead rubber, Berdych completed the sweep with a 6-3 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber