International Premier Tennis League 2016

Tennis: Warriors, Slammers win in 'futuristic' S'pore

Japan Warriors' Fernando Verdasco hitting a forehand during his 6-1 win over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez of the Indian Aces. The world No. 42 described Singapore as a country that "looks futuristic, like a mix of Avatar and Jurassic Park".
Japan Warriors' Fernando Verdasco hitting a forehand during his 6-1 win over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez of the Indian Aces. The world No. 42 described Singapore as a country that "looks futuristic, like a mix of Avatar and Jurassic Park". ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

They might be without star player and world No. 5 Kei Nishikori in Singapore, but Japan Warriors sprung an upset to beat the Indian Aces 27-20 at the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) yesterday.

The Warriors entered yesterday's match having recorded just one victory in four matches and lying bottom of the four-team standings, while their opponents were on top with three wins and a loss.

They had arrived in Singapore, the second of the tennis tournament's three stops, a weakened side without Nishikori after he played the first leg in Japan.

The Japanese is the highest-ranked singles player to participate in this year's IPTL, an event now into its third year.

But this year, the roster has been depleted of big names. Absentees were Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, all of whom took part in previous editions of the event.

Despite Nishikori's absence, Spain's former world No. 7 Fernando Verdasco stepped up to the plate, as he beat compatriot and world No. 28 Feliciano Lopez 6-1 in the men's singles tie, the final rubber of the match.

World No. 42 Verdasco, who described Singapore as a country that "looks futuristic, like a mix of Avatar and Jurassic Park", produced his best tennis in the Republic.

The left-handed player said: "I haven't been playing that great in the past few days but I think I played my best tennis today."

In the second match, home side and defending champions Singapore Slammers easily beat the UAE Royals 30-18 .

It concluded with world No. 13 Australian Nick Kyrgios beating No. 10 Czech Tomas Berdych 6-5 in the men's singles showdown.

The atmosphere inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium remained subdued for the second straight day, as the DJs tried to hype up the crowd of about 1,000 with chants of "I-P-T-L" and music blaring in between points.

Nonetheless, the spectators who turned up saw a lighter side of the players' personality.

Dutch doubles specialist Jean-Julien Rojer wore red snake-skin print shorts to "feel relaxed out here", to which his team-mate Verdasco quipped: "Today, he's the python man."

The Slammers also pleased the gallery as Kyrgios and his team-mates gave tennis balls to fans sitting in the stands.

Lawyer Gavin Neo, 26, said: "It's like an exhibition match and it's interesting to see so many different players in one session, and you see things like teamwork too."


IPTL SINGAPORE
Day 3: StarHub Ch201, 5pm & 8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'Warriors, Slammers win in 'futuristic' S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe