SINGAPORE - Shortly before the DBS Singapore Slammers took on table-toppers Micromax Indian Aces yesterday in the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), team coach Josh Eagle was asked how badly the team wanted to post its first win of the league.
His reply: "To say we're desperate for a win is an understatement."
The team's hunger for a victory showed. The Slammers, up against the unbeaten Aces, put up their best performance in the IPTL so far to win 24-23 after a super shoot-out at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The home side, after losing two out of the night's first three matches, had at one stage looked destined for a fifth straight loss in the series.
The Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych then mounted a comeback in the men's singles when he beat Gael Monfils 6-2, before cementing his role as the night's hero by beating the Frenchman again in the super shoot-out, which is a seven-minute singles set to settle ties that are level on game scores after five sets.
The player with more points after seven minutes wins one point for his team, essentially determining the overall winner.
Said Berdych: "There is no better feeling than to share the win and happiness with everyone here. You can see that anything is possible in this format."
The world No. 7 was called on to play the tense super shoot-out after Australian team-mates Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios levelled the overall game score by beating Rohan Bopanna and Monfils 6-5 in the men's doubles.
Said Hewitt, a two-time grand slam champion: "It was massive for the team tonight. We've been unlucky, and things haven't gone our way but tonight things really changed. We were fighting for each other out there."
Kyrgios added: "I think we definitely sent a message out tonight. If we can beat the top team in the league, we can beat the others too."
Hewitt dedicated his doubles win with Kyrgios to compatriot Phillip Hughes, the late cricketer whose funeral was held yesterday.
In the women's singles, Serena Williams etched out a 6-4 win against Serbian Ana Ivanovic. She then partnered Bruno Soares in the mixed doubles, but lost to Bopanna and Sania Mirza 6-4.
The world No. 1 showed just how seriously she took the competition when she smashed a racket in frustration, just four games into her singles match following some unforced errors.
But former world No. 1 Andre Agassi endured another disappointing outing as he was thrashed 6-2 by Fabrice Santoro in the men's legends singles.
Despite yesterday's win, the Slammers - with 10 points after five ties - continue to prop up the four-team standings.
The Aces are the top team with 18 points to their credit. The Musafir.com UAE Royals, who defeated the Manila Mavericks 26-11 in the day's other tie, are in second spot with 15 points, while the Mavericks are third with 13 points.
The Slammers will play the Royals tonight for their last tie of the Singapore leg, while the Indian Aces will play the Manila Mavericks.
This article was first published on December 4, 2014.
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