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Tennis: Berdych tells Slammers to “start strong” in Singapore

World No. 7 Tomas Berdych (left), pictured next to IPTL COO Eric Gottschalk, says the Singapore Slammers are aiming to turn around their fortunes in Singapore, after losing all three matches in Manila. Photo: DPS Singapore Slammers.

World No. 7 Tomas Berdych (left), pictured next to IPTL COO Eric Gottschalk, says the Singapore Slammers are aiming to turn around their fortunes in Singapore, after losing all three matches in Manila. Photo: DPS Singapore Slammers.

December 1, 2014: World No. 7 Tomas Berdych believes bottom-ranked DBS Singapore Slammers need to make the most of home advantage at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in order to kick-start their challenge in the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

 

The Slammers finished bottom of the four-franchise table after the opening leg in Manila and Berdych stressed the importance of starting strongly in Singapore, where the hosts begin their round-robin matches against the Manila Mavericks on Tuesday. Andy Murray starred for the Mavericks in Manila, but will not compete in the other legs, so Berdych will face World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the men’s singles.

 

“We didn’t start the way we wanted to in Manila. As we are coming to our home venue, we want to change it all and really start strong, play well and make some wins. I think this is the best place to do it and for us it would be great to start with some wins,” Berdych said.

 

“I think we have all had good seasons, but playing against Jo is going to be a tough match. We’ve had many of them in the past and as I was saying, this is the best time to start to win some matches and I’m going to try and win many and this is a good start.”

 

Ana Ivanovic serves up drinks to Serena Williams and Daniela Hantuchova on the flight from Manila to Singapore for the second leg of the IPTL. Photo: Getty Images.

Ana Ivanovic serves up drinks to Serena Williams and Daniela Hantuchova on the flight from Manila to Singapore for the second leg of the IPTL. Flight photos: Getty Images.

World No. 1 Serena Williams will face Kirsten Flipkens in the women’s singles, two days after the 18-time Grand Slam singles winner beat the Belgian 6-3 in the teams’ last match in Manila. Berdych and Williams – who only played the last day in Manila – will also play in the men’s and mixed doubles respectively, while Andre Agassi will play Mark Philippoussis in the past champions’ singles.

 

Agassi will be making his debut for the Slammers in Singapore and the former World No. 1 said he was keen to compete in coming editions.

 

Andre Agassi lights up a Christmas tree at Shangri-La Hotel. Photo: DPS Singapore Slammers.

Andre Agassi lights up a Christmas tree at Shangri-La Hotel. Photo: DPS Singapore Slammers.

“I hope to be a contribution for my team and add to the entire experience,” said the popular American, who won eight Grand Slam singles titles. “It’s great to be back. I wish I had more reasons to come here and now it looks like I have a reason to come every year.”

 

Slammers coach Josh Eagle admitted there were challenges keeping everyone happy in his eight-strong squad, which also includes Australian trio Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and teenager Nick Kyrgios, Daniela Hantuchova and doubles specialist Bruno Soares.

 

“It’s not easy. It’s pretty hard when you’ve got Grand Slam champions like Pat Rafter having to sit out a couple of matches, but when you’re bringing in some of the all-time greats, that’s what showcases this product,” said Eagle, who has been Australia’s Davis Cup coach since January 2013 after a pro career that included five ATP doubles titles in 24 finals.

 

“The IPTL is just an incredible product, as you can get the absolute all-time greats of the game and the greats of the current era playing together.

 

“Travelling together is a lot of fun; the format is fun. You will see the excitement on the bench among all the players. I have no doubt that Andre is excited, as is Serena. For us, it’s about showing the fans what this is all about. We’re serious about winning and will be pulling out all the stops here.”

 

The Micromax Indian Aces – including Gael Monfils, World No. 5 Ana Ivanovic and Indian duo Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna – lead the table after winning all three of their matches in Manila.

 

French stars Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga travel from Manila to Singapore.

French stars Gael Monfils of the Indian Aces and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of the Manila Mavericks on the flight to Singapore.

Musafir.com UAE Royals are second and will welcome Caroline Wozniacki for the Singapore leg’s final day in on Thursday, when she will join a team featuring US Open champion Marin Cilic and his coach Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion.

 

Ivanisevic, 43, won two of his three past champions’ singles matches in Manila and was a fan of the IPTL’s groundbreaking team format.

 

“I think this is going to be good for the future,” he said. “Hopefully the Singapore people will enjoy it. We then have another two cities to go, but so far it’s looking great and it’s going to be even better and better.”

 

20141202-04_IPTL-Singapore-schedule

Tentative match schedule for IPTL – Singapore Leg from December 2-4; subject to change.

Source: IPTL (www.iptlworld.com); Editing by SportAsia

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