I love tennis, and have to admit that I was somewhat sceptical about last week’s inception of the new International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). But, having watched the fascinating and at times compelling pre Christmas spectacle – I’ve instantly become a big fan.
I really enjoyed the mix of big names from both the current men’s and women’s tours as well as seeing some of the great players go head-to-head in matches that are comprised of a men’s singles, men’s double, women’s singles, mixed doubles, and a past-masters singles.
Sure, big names such as Federer, Sampras and Djokovic were missing from the first of the four round robins series between the four teams, but the crowds were enthusiastic in their applause of top players such as Murray, Cilic, Berdych Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, and past masters such as Patrick Rafter, Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis. Perhaps the biggest applause though was reserved for Fabrice Santoro; the little known Frenchman who, standing in for Pete Sampras, entertained the crowd with his amazing shot-making capabilities in a clean sweep of old boys matches against Pat Rafter, Goran Ivanisevic and Carlos Moya.
Santoro’s surprising hat-trick was backed-up by a men’s singles hat-trick from Gael Monfils and a double from Ana Ivanovic as the Micromax Indian Aces won all three of their first round matches to top the table by two points from the UAE Royals, who won their remaining two matches.
What really made the IPTL a spectacle though was the great format that was devised to make sure that each matches completed within three hours. The format included one-point deuces, 5-minute tie-breaks that take place at 5-5, and a double-point power play that means a game can be won from 40-30 down by winning the next point. Sure it’s gimmicky – but really exciting!
The league moves from the Philippines to Singapore for the second series of round-robin matches and, whether you backed the Indian Aces last week (advised pre-tournament at 5/2) or not, you could do worse than back them this week.
Having proved himself, Santoro could easily continue to have his fellow old boys’ measure, whilst Monfils looked in good form and hungry after returning from injury, whilst Ivanovic also looks sure to continue to win games. Meanwhile, though the unfamiliar doubles pairings may not be the best, they should continue to get better with practice – which they’re look sure to be doing plenty of now they’re heading the table.
2 points Indian Aces @ 11/8 or better