ITPL: Aces stunned, Slammers stay hot
Fernando Verdasco (left) and Feliciano Lopez talk on Wednesday at the IPTL. Photo: IPTL

ITPL: Aces stunned, Slammers stay hot

The Indian Aces dominance over the rest of the IPTL field slipped on Wednesday as the top team was stunned by the bottom-dwellers while a challenger is sneaking up on the leaderboard.

pete-borkowski
Pete Borkowski

Day five of the IPTL saw the current hosts, the Singapore Slammers stay hot on home soil while the basement-dwelling Japan Warriors got a much-needed boost with an upset win. Overall, the action was fairly one-sided on Wednesday as play continued in Singapore.

Japan Warriors 27 – 20 Indian Aces

The top team in the league, the Indian Aces, looked to continue their dominance in 2016 against the last place Japan Warriors, but in desperate need of a turn-around, the Warriors brought their A-game to the opening clash on day five. The opening set came down to the final point as the Warriors’ Fernando Gonzalez and Aces’ Mark Philippoussis found themselves tied up at 5-5, 6-6 in the tiebreak. It was Gonzalez who won that final point to give the Warriors an early lead. The mixed doubles was tight as well, with Jean-Julien Rojer and Jelena Jankovic squeaking out a 6-4 win for the Warriors to hold on to the lead.

The Warriors celebrate during their upset win. Photo: IPTL
The Warriors celebrate during their upset win. Photo: IPTL

Jankovic again snuck out a 6-4 set, this time in the women’s singles against Kirsten Flipkens to extend the Warrirors lead to five games. With their team on the brink, Ivan Dodig and Feliciano Lopez came to the rescue for the Aces in the fourth set, finally claiming their team’s first set of the match with a 6-3 men’s doubles win to close the gap heading into the decider. Lopez entered the final set with his Aces only trailing by two, meaning all he had to do was win the set by three games to claim victory. But Fernando Verdasco had other ideas. The Warriors singles man dominated the final set, blowing out Lopez 6-1 to complete the upset.

Singapore Slammers 30 – UAE Royals 18

So far in the 2016 IPTL, there had only been one sweep in nine matches, that being the first-place Aces crushing the Warriors on day one. The host Singapore Slammers were looking to make it two as they came out flying in their tie against the UAE Royals. It started with Carlos Moya cruising past big-serving Goran Ivanisevic 6-2 to kick off the proceedings for the Slammers. Kiki Bertens followed suit in the next set, crushing Ana Ivanovic by the same score to give the hosts an eight-point lead after only two sets.

Carlos Moya lines up a serve in the opening set of the Slammers match on Wednesday. Photo: IPTL
Carlos Moya lines up a serve in the opening set of the Slammers match on Wednesday. Photo: IPTL

Bertens and Marcelo Melo continued the Slammers’ dominance in the mixed doubles, knocking off Martina Hingis and Daniel Nestor to take a stranglehold on the match. Not even the previously reliable pair of Nestor and Pablo Cuevas were able to turn things around for the Royals, as they fell in a tiebreak to Melo and Marcos Baghdatis in the fourth set. Tomas Berdych entered the fifth set for Royals with a massive deficit. The Slammers were leading 24-13, meaning Berdych would have to win the set and stretch the lead to 11 games to give them a shot. But Nick Kyrgios had no intention of letting the set slip away. He hung on to force a tiebreak, which he won on a deciding point to keep the Slammers unbeaten at home.

The final day of play in Singapore will be tomorrow with the Warriors looking to build on their big win against the Royals, while the Slammers will try to stay perfect against the Aces with first place on the line. 

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