After a 10-day three-nation tour, the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) 2016 culminated in an exciting grand finale with an epic showdown between the two table-toppers here at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, Hyderabad.
The OUE Singapore Slammers retained the IPTL title in a rematch of last year's final although this time it was played at the Aces home arena. The 30-14 scoreline emphasizes the dominance of the winners in the match that mattered the most.
“We are waiting for the final,” said Slammers coach Purav Raja. And he didn’t lie. The Indian professional tennis player was aware of the comfortable head-to-head that the Aces have had in this 2016 edition: a 3-0 in matches, with narrow, tight and strong wins. But he also knew that these previous results could go in their favour.
As for the match, there is absolutely no doubt that Carlos Moyà could still play on the current tour. The former world number one, now retired, was once again in spectacular form. With an outstanding seven wins in a row, the Spaniard started things off precisely the way that coach Raja wanted - beating Mark Philippoussis and also setting a very high standard for his team.
Kiki Bertens continued with her sensational powerful game and the Dutch-woman not only beat Kirsten Flipkens, but also the Belgian’s substitute, the queen of Hyderabad herself, Sania Mirza. The Indian tennis star played her first singles game of the year and was close to upset Bertens, who was extremely relieved once the set was over.
In the Mixed Doubles set, Marcelo Melo came with great confidence and, alongside Bertens, neutralized the power of the Indian duo Sania Mirza/Rohan Bopanna. Everything looked bright for the Slammers. Two more sets and the title would be renewed.
Nick Kyrgios joined Melo and both took over the Aces pair of Feliciano López and Ivan Dodig. All their sets have been spectacular this season and the final one was not an exception. After four sets, the Slammers were well within earshot of the championship. It all came down to Marcos Baghdatis who sealed the final victory with a great win over Feliciano López.
Raja was right. His team delivered when it mattered. For a second straight year, the OUE Singapore Slammers are the IPTL champions.
What the Players said
The Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League 2016 has come to an end and the OUE Singapore Slammers have retained the title with a sensational win over the local team Indian Aces. After the fantastic victory, here's what the players said:
Carlos Moyà (OUE Singapore Slammers)
“Kiki has been the queen of the team.”
“How I keep it so cool? I guess it’s the way I am and also the team competition helps too. I try not to show to the other guy what I am thinking when things don’t go the way I want. But then again, it’s a team effort also; the other players help you to keep it cool.”
Nick Kyrgios (OUE Singapore Slammers)
“It was a lot of fun. I always look forward to the IPTL and the new faces on the team have been key. You make new friends, you have this team spirit that the IPTL offers and we have had such a good chemistry… the win shows it. We have been supporting each other during the whole competition.”
“I love team sports. I love watching and also playing. Everyone supported me this week and that makes it more fun, more enjoyable.”
Kiki Bertens (OUE Singapore Slammers)
“It has been a really nice experience. It didn’t feel at all that I was the only girl in the team. They have been very supportive. Has been great.”
“Yesterday was my birthday and I had a great day with the guys. We could celebrate, have a nice dinner and they sang happy birthday probably fifteen times during the day. The win is a birthday present for sure. We all came out with great energy today.”
Rohan Bopanna (Indian Aces)
“They (the Slammers) came absolutely firing today. It is not easy (to) play catching up tennis and the display of tennis has been great today.”
Sania Mirza (Indian Aces)
“It’s always special playing at home. We were really happy to play the final again; we have been in all three finals but sometimes bad days happen. Everything has to come together but at the end of the day, even if we lost it’s always nice to play in Hyderabad because I don’t get to do that very often.”
Visit the MatchCentre for the complete breakdown of the final.