Tennis: Berdych takes centre stage

Tennis: Berdych takes centre stage
Tomas Berdych in action for the DBS Singapore Slammers against the Indian Aces at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

SINGAPORE - He is the men's world No. 7, but Tomas Berdych is not as big a draw as his DBS Singapore Slammers teammate Serena Williams, the women's world No. 1.

Long-retired Andre Agassi, another of his teammates, is also a much bigger fan favourite.

Last night, though, Berdych ensured he was the centre of attention by playing the hero for the Slammers, who clinched their first victory of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League at the Singapore Indoor Stadium after posting an exciting 24-23 win over the previously unbeaten Micromax Indian Aces.

With the Slammers trailing 11-16 after the third match, Berdych, 29, pulled the home side back into contention in the fourth with a 6-2 win over Gael Monfils, narrowing the overall score to 17-18.

The tie went into the tournament's first super shoot-out after the last match - a men's doubles tie between Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios of the Slammers and the Aces' Rohan Bopanna and Monfils - ended 6-5 in the Singapore team's favour, tying the overall score at 23 apiece.

Up stepped Berdych to face Monfils again in the super shoot-out, where the player who scores the most points in the allotted seven minutes will win the match.

Despite trailing early, the intense Czech clawed his way back and eventually won the shoot-out 10-6 to spark wild celebrations on the Slammers bench.

Said Hewitt: "It was massive for the team, mainly because we have been laying it all on the line for the past four nights, but we've been unlucky and things haven't gone our way, so tonight it certainly changed.

"For the past week we've certainly had a great team atmosphere, we've had really great team bonding and that really helped us over the line tonight.

"We were really fighting for each other."

Kyrgios added: "I thought today there was a bit more pressure; we all wanted to get a win out there and that happened. It was good."

The tie started positively for the Slammers, after Williams put the Singapore team ahead by beating Ana Ivanovic 6-4 in the first match.

The Aces took an overall 10-9 lead after the Indians' mixed doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna beat the Williams/Bruno Soares combination 6-3 in the second match.

Playing in only his third match, eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi had an outing to forget, again, after the 44-year-old Slammers star fell 2-6 to Fabrice Santoro, to the dismay of many among the 9,500 fans at the stadium.

After Berdych's heroics in the fourth game, Hewitt and Kyrgios had the chance to close out the tie at 5-4, but were forced into a shoot- out against the Aces.

They won the shoot-out 8-4 to level the overall scores and take the tie into a super shoot-out, where Berdych stood tall for the Slammers.

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