Manila: Rafael Nadal made a rapturous IPTL debut as defending champions Indian Aces hammered UAE Royals 30-18 for their third straight win in season two of the tournament here today.
The second day of IPTL's Manila leg was all about Nadal, who battled past Tomas Berdych 6-5 via tie-break in the fifth and final set.
It took the audiences many minutes to settle down after Nadal made his appearance on court. The Spaniard was a supportive team-mate on the bench, cheering and applauding every point won. There was a deafening uproar when he took the court for the men's doubles with Ivan Dodig, before taking on Berdych.
The tie began with the mixed doubles. The chemistry of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna was too much to deal with for Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic, the Aces winning the set 6-4.
The women?s singles saw Sam Stosur face-off with Ana Ivanovic, and even a substitution with Mladenovic did not help the Royals, with Aces winning it convincingly at 6-3.
The men?s legends singles witnessed some fine tennis with Fabrice Santoro chipping and slicing the ball with his magical backhand. In an evenly contested game, the Frenchman won it 6-3 over Goran Ivanisevic.
Tennis fans got to see some incredible doubles action in the next match, with each team diving to win every point. The Aces on a roll with three sets in the bag, and the Royals eager to get a win on the scoreboard. Ultimately, Nadal and Dodig won it for the Aces 6-3.
In the most awaited match of the evening, Nadal and Berdych showcased some top quality competitive tennis, fighting point for point, with absolute precision, taking the match all the way to the shoot-out. In a set that could have gone either way, it was Nadal who clinched victory.
Nadal said: "I heard some wonderful things about the IPTL from the players last year. I was looking forward to playing last year too, but had to pull out because of my appendicitis injury. But I'm really excited to be playing here today. It's a great format, its superbly organised, all the players love it, and it's great for the sport of tennis to be able to go to new markets."
On his visit to India next week, he said: "I am looking forward to playing in Delhi, my first time there. I've played a few times in Chennai. I also have a centre of my foundation in Anantapur, and I'm happy that some children from that centre will be able to come to the games in Delhi. I?m happy to support the children there, they get to learn English, Mathematics, Informatics; we've also built some tennis courts there, and it feels good to support the children."
In the second match of the day, home team Philippine Mavericks defeated Japan Warriors 25-21.