New Delhi: Legendary Rafael Nadal was at his energetic best in his two wins as rampaging Indian Aces continued their sparkling run in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) with a 30-12 rout of the Philippines Mavervicks, on the opening day of the Indian leg of the event.
Rafael Nadal. Pic/PTI
Nadal, the 14-time Grand Slam winner, combined with India's Rohan Bopanna to win the men's doubles before closing the contest with a reasonably comfortable win in the men's singles over French opponent Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who is a doubles specialist. Before that, Bopanna and Sania Mirza started off in brilliant fashion by crushing the Mavericks combo of Treat Huey and Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2.
The mixed doubles Indian pair proved too hot to handle for the visitors. Sania's fierce forehand and calculated serves was a treat to watch for the home fans. It was Sania's backhand winner when Tomljanovic was serving that sealed the opening set for the defending champions. World No 5 and WTA year-end Finale champion Agnieszka
Radwanska then recorded another dominating triumph over Jarmila Gajdosova.
After two sets, the Indian team was leading 12-3. The gap was too big and Fabrice Santoro widened it beyond reach of the rivals with his 6-1 win over Mark
Philippoussis. That win of the French player all but sealed the fate of the Philippines team and the next two matches were a mere a formality.
There was some contest in the men's doubles match between Nadal-Bopanna and Huey and Roger-Vasselin but it was the home team that prevailed 6-4. The last match of the day between Nadal and Roger-Vasselin was to decide only the margin of victory for the defending champions. Nadal came out all guns blazing to beat his rival 6-4. The Spaniard southpaw was leading 4-1 at one stage and Roger-Vasselin stopped it from becoming a no-contest with his gritty fight.
It was the fourth win for Indian Aces in five matches and they continue to sit on top of the points table. Earlier, Indian veteran Leander Paes and his doubles
partner Hugues Herbert turned it around remarkably for the Japan Warriors, who beat UAE Royals 24-21 to record their first win in the opening match of this leg.
From trailing 6-12 after two sets, the Warriors staged a remarkable comeback to register their first win after five successive losses. UAE Royals began the match impressively with world number six Ana Ivanovic proving a handful for both Kurumi Nara and her substitute in the middle of the set Mirjana Lucic.
The Serbian superstar gave her team a 1-0 lead by winning the contest 6-2 with consummate ease. In front of a sparse yet vociferous crowd, Goran Ivansevic rolled back the years to dish out some exquisite strokeplay to extend the lead for UAE Royals.
Up against Swede Thomas Enqvist, Ivansevic showed that he had lost none of the old magic by outplaying his rival 6-4. "It was a difficult match but he made it easy for me by committing some very easy mistakes," said the former Wimbledon champion.
However, the match turned on its head when local hero Leander Paes walked in for the men's doubles tie along with Hugues Herbert. Up against Tomas Berdych and Daniel Nestor, the Indo-French team prevailed 6-3 much to the delight of the few hundred fans, who had trickled into the stadium.
The 42-year-old Indian veteran was evidently enjoying himself, guiding Herbert, who is nearly a decade younger to him. The duo broke Nestor and Berdych once en route to the convincing victory. Next up proved to be the upset of the match as Berdych found himself outplayed by the sheer grit of Herbert. Broken twice in the match, Berdych could only mumble in disbelief as Herbert stunned him by matching his power in baseline strokes.
The Herbert victory narrowed the scoreline gap to 18-19, making the mixed doubles set a crucial one. The set was played between Kristina Mladenovic and Nestor and Lucic and Herbert. Herbert, the US Open men's doubles champion, and Lucic ensured that the turnaround was complete as they clinched the issue 6-2 to finally open the Warriors account.