The Singapore Slammers are the ITPL champions for the second year running. The reigning champions upset the host Indian Aces in Sunday’s final in a 30-14 blowout, which was also a repeat of the 2015 final (which the Slammers won 26-20). The Aces had led the IPTL standings throughout the 2016 season, but came out flat against the Slammers, peaked late in the season to grab their second title in a row in a sweep.
Singapore Slammers 30 – 14 Indian Aces
Throughout the 2016 IPTL season, there had perhaps been no more reliable player than Carlos Moya. It came as no surprise when the former world number one got the Slammers off to the strong start, finding the answer to Mark Philippoussis’ big serve and defending his own beautifully, not facing a break point on route to taking the opening set 6-4. Kiki Bertens had carried the load for the Slammers throughout the fortnight and continued to impress, as she raced to a big lead in the women’s singles against Kirsten Flipkens. A game away from the defeat, Flipkens was subbed out for doubles specialist Sania Mirza, who could not salvage the set which went to Bertens.
Already down five points after two sets, the Aces turned to their home heroes, Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, to try to turn the match around. Despite having home court advantage, the Indian pair were no match for Bertens and Marcelo Melo, who came out firing, breaking three times in the third set while saving the lone break point that they faced. Ivan Dodig came in to replace Bopanna, but could not turn the Aces fortunes around. The Slammers would take the set 6-1, stretching their overall lead to 18-8 with only two sets to go.
Things continued to go from bad to worse for the Aces, as Dodig and Feliciano Lopez were blown out in the men’s doubles too. Melo and partner Nick Kyrgios kept the run going for the Slammers, as they took the set to open up a 14-point lead entering the fifth and final set. To have any hope of pulling a seemingly impossible upset. Feliciano Lopez was going to need to win the fifth set and open up an uninterrupted 14-point lead to have any chance of stealing a title. He would fall well short, as Marcos Baghdatis was not about to leave anything to chance for the Slammers. The Cypriot came up big, winning the set 6-4 to wrap up the second consecutive title for the Singapore Slammers.
By the Numbers
The key to the match was the Aces struggles on break points. The hosts were one for ten in the entire match, while they were broken nine times on 18 break points. In the five combined sets, the Aces had twice as many unforced errors as their opponents, while only posting just under a third fewer winners (53 for the Slammers to 34 for the Aces. The final was the only match of the 2016 IPTL where the winner doubled the loser in points, making it the biggest blowout of the season.