MATCH REPORT: Federer exits but ensures Royals stay in the finals race

ROGER FEDERER EXITED the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in style by helping the UAE Royals beat the Singapore Slammers (27-23) to stay in the hunt for the finals race in Singapore yesterday. 

The Swiss maestro entered the match against the Slammers with no wins under his belt, but produced some brilliant tennis in the men’s doubles and singles to sign off on a high. 

The Gap between the second place Slammers and third placed Royals is just 0.7% now. Both teams will play their final match today and that will determine which team goes through to the finals to join the Indian Aces. 

First up, in the legends singles, Goran Ivanisevic came up with some inspired tennis against Carlos Moya. Both men weren’t willing to give an inch on their service game, but the Croat kept exerting pressure on the Spaniard and found a window to break serve. 

Given the situation of the tie and the set, Ivanisevic played like a man possessed and grabbed the set 6-4 to set the tone for the Royals for the rest of the evening. 

As expected the women’s singles between Karolina Pliskova and Kristina Mladenovic saw the pendulum swing from one side to the other. Both women cracked on their service games and had all sorts of issues holding. From 3-3, 4-4 to the shoot-out, the set saw everything from shanks, clean winners and controversy. 

In the end, the set had to be decided in a shoot-out and such was the closeness and intensity of the set, a sudden death point had to be played to determine the winner. In the end, after a sluggish set, Mladenovic eked out a win 6-5. 

In the mixed doubles, Federer took to the court to a stunning round of applause. However, the maestro couldn’t get into the groove with Mladenovic. On the other hand, Brown/Pliskova produced a complete performance to obtain the lead and eventually nailed the set 6-3. 

The men’s doubles saw yet another power-packed display of tennis, from Kyrgios/Melo and Nestor/Federer. Both team hungry for a win; the crowds were treated to some superb shot-making. Just when it appeared that we would be going the shoot-out way, the Royals’ pair nailed it in the tenth games for a 6-4 win. 

In the final set of the evening, both Federer and Wawrinka produced a fantastic display of singles tennis. At the beginning stages of the set, Federer raced to a 3-0 lead, but Wawrinka got into his groove to level the match at 4 games all. 

The Swiss men came up with big serves, deft volleys and of course, magical single-handed backhands. In the end, Federer hung in tough, seized the moment and broke his compatriot in the ninth game and served out the set 6-4. 

A relieved Federer said, 

“I had a great time in the IPTL last year, and that’s why I’m back. It’s a great format, the team atmosphere is great. It’s nice that even if you lose, they don’t let you go down in hole. It’s nice to know that even if you lose, you have a strong bench out there. For me personally, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the legends singles. It’s great to see them play, fight out, to see how fit they still are, how well they still play!” 

On playing in Singapore, he added,

“It’s my first time here in Singapore. The crowd was fantastic tonight. It’s nice that they came out to support me tonight, and I’m happy to be able to win here, having lost 7 of my opening sets in a row this IPTL season!”

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