New Delhi: India's exciting date with the legends of tennis world ended on Monday after the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic gave enough glittering glimpses of their brilliance on the concluding day of IPTL.
Manila Mavericks defeated Singapore Slammers 23-17 in the evening match while the Djokovic-led UAE Royals proved too hot for home team India Aces, winning 29-22 in the Indian Premier Tennis League.
The inaugural tournament now travels to Dubai for the fourth and final leg from December 13. But the day, as it has been the case all through the show, was not about who won and lost. The frenzy was all about the magic greats of past and present weaved inside the makeshift tennis court laid at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
The atmosphere was loud even as the venue was far from full, something seen on all three days. The mother of all clashes was the one between world number one Djokovic and Federer. The responsive crowd though had to wait right till end for the much-awaited match in the three-day leg.
The earlier sets of the night tie had a lot to offer. The home team's Ana Ivanovic lost to Kristina Mladenovic 5-6 but that was rather welcomed by the crowd, making way for Sampras and Ivanisevic to renew their famous rivalry in the past champions' singles.
The keenly anticipated contest was cut short when Sampras was substituted by captain Fabrice Santoro as Ivanisevic led 4-1. Sampras, who looked rusty in his opener yesterday, was not at his best again, forcing him to also miss the men's doubles alongside Federer. Ivanisevic won the set 6-3.
As all waited with bated breath for the Federer-Djokovic face-off, the two champions gave them a teaser by turning up for the doubles. Federer was sporty enough to play both mixed doubles (with Sania) and men's doubles (with Gael Monfils).
The penultimate set got Federer and Monfils really into the act. Up against Zimonjic and Djokovic, they jumped all over the court, celebrated each winner as if a lot was at stake.
With the match already in the bag for UAE Royals, the moment of the men's singles showdown finally arrived. Suddenly the fun part from their game vanished with Federer and Djokovic appearing as intense as they usually are on the professional tour. The chair umpire tried his bit to egg on the crowd further but that did not amuse Djokovic.
The winners came thick and fast from their rackets and at 3-3, there was hardly anything separating the two. It was much like their last six meetings on the tour with both sharing the spoils.
They were reaching out for the ball as if they were not playing in New Delhi, but battling out in New York in their bid to add another Major to their trophy board.
The Swiss great made it 5-4 with another solid hold. He fired four aces to Djokovic's none. The set had to go to the wire and it did. With the scores locked at 5-5, it was time for the five-minute shoot-out. Djokovic came up with a breathtaking backhand cross court winner on the way to take a 3-2 lead before missing an easy overhead for 3-3.
With two minutes left on the clock it was anyone's set. Federer eventually won the shoot-out but thanks to one of the many rules IPTL follow, the two played one final game which Djokovic sealed.
A warm handshake followed the pulsating affair and next came handshakes all over the court. The end of the India leg could not have been any better.