By Jake Davies
- Indian Aces narrowly hold the top spot of the IPTL following win over Singapore Slammers
- Aces are favourite to clinch their second IPTL title with a successful second leg performance.
- Owner Mahesh Bhupathi will hope for a memorable ending to a difficult third season of the IPTL
SINGAPORE – The inaugural champions head to their home event in the lead, but will the lights go down after the third leg and IPTL final?
Aces flying high with two big wins in Singapore
The champions of the 2014 edition of the IPTL returned to the top of the leaderboard as they earned two memorable victories in Singapore with wins over the UAE Royals and the Singapore Slammers.
The Aces, led by captain Thomas Enqvist, have rediscovered their winning formula that served them so well in 2014. With the combination of Rohan Bopanna, Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig headlining the doubles and a tricky Kirsten Flipkens in the singles, they have shot up the leaderboard in the last few outings.
The most significant of wins occured on the last day of the Singapore leg. Defending champions Singapore Slammers looked in control as Kiki Bertens dominated Flipkens, but an inspired, committed and rejuvenated performance from Mirza and Bopanna brought the Aces back into contention.
Dodig, who was the MVP of the 2015 IPTL, has produced similar unthinkable performances this time around as his efforts contributed to a vital doubles win to take the match to 17-17 in the overall scoring. The Aces left-handed-Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, came through in the most nail-biting singles sets of tennis that the IPTL have delivered this season. That Aces win gave them the additional breathing space heading into the last leg in India – their home leg.
Will we see the IPTL return in 2017?
The 2016 event has suffered considerably following the turmoil surrounding the inaccurate marketing of star players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, but many active players have played their part in some moments of magic over the course of the last week of tennis in Japan and Singapore.
Star names failed to materialise, which in turn, has taken the shine off the exhibition event. Tennis fans wanted a plethora of grand slam champions and household names, but the IPTL failed to deliver despite many promises of the contrary.
Money is a major factor in the no-shows of many top players this time around, but another issue lies in the unfortunate scheduling of the International Premier Tennis League. Many top players, who had played the previous years of the event, have not returned for this year’s edition, which suggests that they value the need of a proper off season in order to prepare for the exploits of another gruelling season. The cons of turning down the opportunity to play weighs out the positives, which ultimately is a major headache for the owner Mahesh Bhupathi.
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