Kobe (Japan): The International Premier Tennis League got off to an impressive start with UAE Royals beating Singapore Slammers as the star-studded tournament made its debut in Japan here today.
A packed house at the Kobe World Hall, full of families and children, and tennis fans greeted the fast-paced format with loud cheers as the Royals won 26-20.
Ana Ivanovic won the women's singles 6-3 over Belinda Bencic to give the Royals a winning start.
Next up in the men's singles, the power-packed shot making of Tomas Berdych and Nick Kyrgios was a hit with the crowd. Kyrgios won convincingly (6-2) for the Slammers, the only set his team won during the evening.
In the men's doubles, Tomas Berdych/Daniel Nestor showcased some brilliant shot-making against the equally clever play of Marcelo Melo/Dustin Brown, though the Royals emerged 6-5 victorious.
The combine of Kristina Mladenovic and Nestor and Goran Ivanisevic showed their class by taking the last two sets -- mixed doubles and men's legends singles respectively -- with relative ease, giving the Royals a terrific start in season 2 of the IPTL, winning 26 games to 20.
His side lost the match today but Kyrgios was upbeat to be in the second season of the IPTL.
"I love IPTL, it's a great format, its shows what tennis can be. I personally love playing in a team environment, I used to play basketball as a kid, so I love have team-mates around.
"I've been thinking of the IPTL all year round, and it's the only time when I have so much fun on the tennis courts. We are a completely new team this time, with me being the only Slammer from last year, so in a way I can help the other players in my team. It's sad we did not win today, but there is still a lot more tennis to look forward to in the coming weeks," he said.
On IPTL's Japan debut, Kyrgios added, "I love Japan, my sister lives here, I love the culture, the food. Absolute loving it here right now."