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Tennis: Monfils, Bopanna star as Indian Aces lead IPTL after Manila leg

Gael Monfils of the Indian Aces dives during his men’s singles match against Marin Cilic of the UAE Royals on the final day of the IPTL’s opening leg in Manila. Photo: AFP.

Gael Monfils of the Indian Aces dives during his men’s singles match against Marin Cilic of the UAE Royals on the final day of the IPTL’s opening leg in Manila. Photo: AFP.

November 30, 2014: The Micromax Indian Aces led the inaugural Coca-Cola IPTL (International Premier Tennis League) after the opening three-day leg in Manila, where they won all three of their round-robin matches.


The Indian Aces beat UAE Royals 28-20 on Sunday in a match between two previously unbeaten teams to decide who topped the table before the four-stop event headed to Singapore, where the second leg will be held from Tuesday to Thursday.


The Indian Aces started out with a surprise loss to UAE Royals when World No. 67 Kristina Mladenovic beat World No. 5 Ana Ivanovic 6-4, although the Serb did well to claw back three games from 5-1 down.


India’s own Rohan Bopanna then played a key role, first teaming up with compatriot Sania Mirza to beat Mladenovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3 in the mixed doubles. Bopanna, 34, then partnered Gael Monfils in the men’s doubles as they beat Zimonjic and US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, giving the Aces a 16-13 overall lead.


Monfils, a crowd favourite, started his men’s singles match against Cilic, but the Croat pulled out with injury and was replaced by Malek Jaziri. Monfils eventually won 6-3 to ensure Indian Aces stayed in the driving seat and they completed the win when player-coach Fabrice ‘The Magician’ Santoro beat former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic 6-4 in the past champions’ singles.


Monfils, 28, was enthusiastic about the kind of tennis being played in the groundbreaking tournament, which features teams playing five sets against each other, with victory determined by the total number of games.


“I love this format. This suits me well. I love the team atmosphere. We have fun out there. Actually we’re good friends – Ana, Sania – we grew up together. It’s a good competition because we have fun,” said Monfils, who had to overcome two players in his men’s singles match.


“I was surprised with the substitution [of Cilic.] Malek is tough, but I think I was in great shape. I’m happy to win for my team. After three wins, I feel great, I feel strong.”


Bopanna, whose two wins in the doubles were vital, added: “We’re having a lot of fun and keeping each other motivated.”


UAE Royals finished second in the table, while hosts Manila Mavericks were third after beating DBS Singapore Slammers 27-19 on Sunday.


Andy Murray was a star for the Mavericks as he beat Nick Kyrgios (6-5) in singles and partnered Kirsten Flipkens to a 6-1 win over World No. 1 Serena Williams and Lleyton Hewitt in the mixed doubles. The Singapore Slammers won their only set through Williams, who beat Flipkens 6-3 in the women’s singles.


Coca-Cola IPTL presented by Qatar Airways (after Manila leg)

Pos.     Team                                        M         W        D         L          Pts

1          Micromax Indian Aces            3          3          0          0          12

2 UAE Royals        3          2          0          1          10

3          Manila Mavericks                    3          1          0          2          7

4          DBS Singapore Slammers      3          0          0          3          4


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Source: IPTL (; Editing by SportAsia

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