IPTL: Kei Nishikori highlights day of nail-biters
Kei Nishikori reacts during Saturday's IPTL action. Photo: IPTL

Day one of the IPTL featured a pair of blowouts. Day two was a completely different story as both ties came down to the deciding set. The matchups on day two were far more even as the action picked up in Tokyo.

Indian Aces 26 – 25 Singapore Slammers

The Aces and Slammers were on opposite ends of the decisive results on day one, but right from the opening set it was clear that it was a new day for both teams, especially the Slammers who were coming off a big loss. After being subbed in on day one, Carlos Moya got the start for the Slammers in the legends set and gave his side the start they needed, as he edged Thomas Enqvist 6-4 to take the early lead. The Aces’ Feliciano Lopez wasted no time in leveling the tie, topping Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 in the men’s singles to level the match at 10-10.

Carlos Moya (far right) high fives his teammates after winning the legends set on Saturday. Photo: IPTL
Carlos Moya (far right) high fives his teammates after winning the legends set on Saturday. Photo: IPTL

Nick Kyrgios took to the doubles with Marcelo Melo and the unlikely pair got the job done against a pair of strong doubles players in Ivan Dodig and Lopez, again by a 6-4 scoreline. But the Aces were able to turn to their local heroes, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza, to keep the Aces in the tie, as they took the fourth set to put all the chips on the table in the fifth rubber. Everything was to be decided in the women’s singles as Kiki Bertens of the Slammers and Kirsten Flipkens of the Aces came into their set with their teams tied at 20-20. It seemed only fitting that the tight tie would come down to a tiebreak, as neither woman was able to pull away and needed a breaker at 5-5 to decide it. For the first time all day, things weren’t that close, as Flipkens became the hero for the aces, cruising through the breaker 7-3 to seal the razor-thin victory and sent the Aces to 2-0.

Japan Warriors 23 – 20 UAE Royals

In their blowout loss on day one, the Warriors had been without their local star Kei Nishikori. The Japanese number one was back in the lineup day two, providing some much-needed firepower for the Warriors. The hosts got off to a strong start as Jelena Jankovic blew out Martina Hingis 6-1 in the opening set. But Hingis would exact her revenge in the second set alongside partner Daniel Nestor, as they took the mixed doubles over Jankovic and Jean-Julien Rojer, although the 6-4 scoreline maintained the Warriors overall lead.

Japan Warriors take a selfie after their victory on Saturday. Photo: IPTL
Japan Warriors take a selfie after their victory on Saturday. Photo: IPTL

Goran Ivanisevic stepped up and closed to the gap to within one for the Royals by taking out Marat Safin 6-4 in a battle of powerful legends. In the men’s doubles, the man the crowd had been waiting for took to the court as Nishikori joined forces with Fernando Verdasco looking to extend the lead. However, they were unable to overcome the experience and strength of Nestor and Pablo Cuevas, who were victorious yesterday as well, as the Royals took the lead entering the final set.

Despite having won three of four sets, the Royals only led by two points, 19-17, entering the men’s singles, meaning that the winner of the final set would take the match, even though that meant the Royals could lose despite having won more sets. The Warriors had the massive advantage entering the final set as it was Nishikori putting the team on his back with the full support of the crowd behind him. It only took two games for the Warriors star to level the tie, taking a 2-0 lead over Tomas Berdych to level the overall score. The world number five never looked back, blasting through the set, taking it 6-1 in a mere 20 minutes to scrape the win for the hosts.

The last day of play in Tokyo will be tomorrow, as the Slammers will look for their first win against the host Warriors, while the Aces will try to stay perfect against the Royals.