STAN & DELIVER: Wawrinka inspires Slammers to IPTL glory

STAN WAWRINKA’S HEROICS guided the Singapore Slammers to their maiden International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) title as they defeated the defending champs Indian Aces (26-21) in Singapore today. 

From set one to the last, the hosts gave it everything and came up with a collective team performance to win the final event of what has been an incredible tournament. 

The Slammers raced to a decent start and held the advantage for the most period of the first three sets, but after Mirza/Bopanna hit back in the mixed doubles, the hosts suddenly faced one game deficit, but an inspired Wawrinka produced a scintillating display of all-court tennis in the men’s singles and doubles to see the home side through. 

First up in the legends rubber, Fabrice Santoro and Carlos Moya took to court and had the responsibility of setting a positive tone for their respective teams. In the initial stages, both men had little difficulties holding serve. 

As the match progressed, Moya and Santoro started serving poorly and relied on winning games by breaking each other’s serve. The pressure was evident on both men, but the Spaniard held his nerve and managed to serve out the set to eke out a close win 6-4. 

In the ladies singles, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Belinda Bencic started exchanging some heavy balls from the baseline. Both women started opening up angles on the court and came up with some incredible backhand winners. 

As expected, both women struggled on serve and pushed the set into a shoot-out. In the end, the Swiss tightened up her game and played some high percentage tennis to breeze through the shoot-out to win an important tie for her team 6-5.

After two sets of play the score read, Slammers: 12 Aces: 9

In the mixed doubles, Brown/Pliskova started off by breaking Sania/Bopanna in the very first game, but the Indian pair too hit back immediately to level the match. As the match progressed Aces’ duo started playing some vintage tennis and produced a few stunners to break the Slammers’ pair. 

In the end, relentless pressure and with a couple of service breaks behind them, Sania/Bopanna thumped Brown/Pliskova 6-2 to put their team in the lead for the very first time. 

In the men’s singles, Stan Wawrinka and Bernard Tomic served extremely well and won quite a few cheap points on their first delivery. While, the Aussie kept changing the direction and pace of his shots, the Swiss unleashed some jaw-dropping backhand winners. 

And then in the middle of the set, Tomic got a little tight on his serve as Wawrinka seized the opportunity and broke for a lead. The World no.4 kept his younger opponent on the back-foot and nailed another quick hold in the ninth game to seal the set 6-3. 

After four sets of play, the hosts were leading the visitors by 20-18. 

In the fifth and final set of the evening, the pair of Wawrinka/Melo got off to a flying start as they broke Bopanna/Dodig and raced to a 3-0 lead within minutes. While the Aces pair tried to look for an opening, the Slammers’ duo was determined to finish off points quickly.

In the end, Wawrinka/Melo continued to serve big and came tightened their game more to shut the door on the Aces pair to win the set, tie and the IPTL crown 6-3.

For their consistent showing throughout the tournament, Ivan Dodig (Indian Aces) and Belinda Bencic (Singapore Slammers) got the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.  

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