Tennis: Slammers weighing chance of IPTL glory

Stan Wawrinka, the headline act for the Singapore Slammers, on arrival in Singapore yesterday. He hopes his clash with Roger Federer will be "a good show for the crowds".
Stan Wawrinka, the headline act for the Singapore Slammers, on arrival in Singapore yesterday. He hopes his clash with Roger Federer will be "a good show for the crowds".ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

World No. 4 Wawrinka to make his debut for home side, ready to meet compatriot Federer

What a difference a year has made for the OUE Singapore Slammers, who will begin their home leg - and final stop - of this year's International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) today.

When the inaugural edition came to town last year, the second of four stops, the Slammers had yet to post a win, and eventually finished bottom of the four-team table.

This year, after playing in four cities and getting contributions from Andy Murray, who starred for the team earlier this week in Dubai, the Slammers find themselves in second spot, with a good shot at reaching the season finale on Sunday.

With Murray giving the Singapore stop a miss, and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic having pulled out of the entire IPTL event to recover from a long season, two-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka will do the heavy lifting for the Slammers this weekend.

The Swiss, who is making his debut in the IPTL, touched down in Singapore yesterday evening.

  • International Premier Tennis League

  • When

    Till Sunday, from 4pm

    Where

    Singapore Indoor Stadium

    Tickets

    One-day: $85 to $255

    Three-day season: From $195

    Today

    •4pm: Legendari Japan Warriors v Philippine Mavericks

    •7.30pm: OUE Singapore Slammers v Obi UAE Royals
    * Order of play will be decided before the tie

    •Players featuring in the Singapore leg (not exhaustive): Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Belinda Bencic, Nick Kyrgios, Carlos Moya, Goran Ivanisevic, Marin Cilic, Mark Philippoussis, Marat Safin

    Format

    •Each tie features five matches: men's singles, women's singles, mixed doubles, men's doubles and men's legends singles.

    •Each match lasts just one set, with the winner the first to reach six games. A 13-point tie-breaker will be played if score is tied at 5-5.

    •No advantage scoring.

    •Each game counts as one point for the team, with the side that accumulate more points after five matches winning the tie.

    •A super shoot-out (a 19-point super tie-breaker in a men's singles format) will be played if the two teams are tied after five matches.

    •League standings are determined by win-loss percentage of overall ties.

    Innovations

    •Shot clock: Time limit between points, during changeovers and between matches. Any team that runs out the shot clock loses a point.

    •Power Point: A receiving player can make use of the Power Point once per match for the next point to count as double.

    •Time-out: A team can call for a 60-second coach's time-out once in each match.

Said the world No. 4, whose arrival details were kept hush-hush: "I have watched quite a few matches of the IPTL and it's going to be something exciting for the team with different rules, so let's see what is going to happen in the next few days.

"They (Slammers) have been playing well and have won quite a few ties already. I hope I can help them to reach the final."

The French Open champion has been pencilled in for a mouth-watering clash against his compatriot Roger Federer in the men's singles match of today's tie between the Slammers and the Obi UAE Royals, the team Federer plays for.

It will be the first time either player is competing in Singapore.

Said Wawrinka: "My match tomorrow with Roger will be a tough one and hopefully a good show for the crowds.

"I am hoping I can start well and get the team off to a good start.

"It is my first time in Singapore. I know it is a crazy city, with some really nice places to see, so hopefully I have some time to look around."

Defending champions Micromax Indian Aces, even without marquee player Rafael Nadal - the Spaniard featured only at the Manila and New Delhi stops - are again the ones to watch as table leaders.

Australian Bernard Tomic, India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna are among those here for the Singapore leg to play for the Aces.

Besides Federer, the Royals will also feature names like last year's US Open champion Marin Cilic and his coach, 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic.

Australia's Mark Philippoussis and Croatia's Ivo Karlovic (Philippine Mavericks) and former world No. 1 Marat Safin of Russia and multiple doubles Grand Slam winner Leander Paes of India (Japan Warriors) round out some of the other tennis stars who will be playing over the next three days.

More than 27,000 spectators filled the stands when the inaugural IPTL leg took place here last year, an encouraging statistic despite it coming just weeks after the WTA Finals, the season finale of the professional women's tour.

The Japan Warriors will play the Philippine Mavericks at 4pm today, before the Slammers take centre court against the Royals.


IPTL, SINGAPORE

Warriors v Mavericks: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 4pm

Royals v Slammers: 7.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2015, with the headline 'SLAMMERS WEIGHING CHANCE OF IPTL GLORY'. Print Edition | Subscribe