The OUE Singapore Slammers were crowned champions of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) 2015 edition in an enthralling finale against the Micromax Indian Aces in Singapore on Sunday. The final is played over five one-set contests over various formats like ‘Legends Singles’, ‘Mixed Doubles’, ‘Men’s and Women’s Singles’, ‘Men’s Doubles’. The cumulative advantage decides the eventual winners. The Slammers won 26-21 after the conclusion of the five rounds. Spaniard Carlos Moya, Swiss Belinda Bencic and Stan Wawrinka registered singles victories while Wawrinka and Marclo Melo won the Men’s Doubles. Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna won the Mixed Doubles match for the Aces.
The Indian Aces, who had won 8 of their eleven contests, were expected to continue their winning form. However, when Carlos Moya started off the proceedings with a 6-4 wn aganst Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, thinks looked well for the Slammers. Bencic then won a tough match against Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-5, edging out the seasoned opponent with some skilful and deft shots. Their match was decided by a “shootout”, similar to a tiebreak, which Bencic won 7-3 to make the slammers lead 12-9.
Aces won the next round, with the formidable Mirza and Bopanna combination blazing past the shocked Dustin Brown and Karolina Pliskova 6-2 to swing the tie in favor of the Aces. Mirza’s confident ground strokes and Bopanna’s competitive net coverage allowed the defending champions to lead 15-14. However when Wawrinka, who had the highest individual ranking among the players in the final, brought back the lead to the Slammers with a stormy 6-3 victory over Croat Bernard Tomic. Tomic, who is one of the best servers among the current crop of players, matched Wawrinka shot for shot until Wawrinka’s now-famous one-handed backhand won a break of serve for him to lead 4-2. He consolidated his next service games to win the match. The Slammers led 20-18. In the deciding Men’s Doubles match, Wawrinka and Marcelo of Brazil defeated Bopanna and Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3. Wawrinka’s contribution was critical again.
Ivan Dodig and Belinda Bencic were named the Most Valuable Players (Male and Female respectively). They won USD 50,000 for their excellent tennis and contributions towards the success of their teams. The champions bagged USD 1 million while the runners-up won USD 500,000. The tournament was played across five cities—Kobe, Manila, Delhi, Dubai and Singapore—to packed houses. In its second edition, the tournament reached audiences in 155 countries and has earned appreciation from fans, players and organizers alike. Founder and MD, Mahesh Bhupathi said that the packed stadiums were evidence that the tournament had been a success. He added that like the IPL revolutionized the concept of cricket, IPTL would also do something similar. It was a part of the evolution of the game, he said.
On the prospects of the next round of IPTL, Bhupathi said that since 2016 was an Olympic Year, he would say that the probability of adding a further team was still under consideration. However the current success of the tournament bodes well for organizers and the tournament itself.