I was wrong. The second season of IPTL was unpredictable till the very last piece of the puzzle. Singapore Slammers, as led by Nick Kyrgios in Japan, Manila and India legs began the race as an inferior losing their first match to UAE Royals in Kobe (20:26).
Mavs ranked number one after Day 1. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Mavs fell to second place arriving in the third leg, continued to spiral down and ended in fourth place overall (11 matches played, 6 matches won, 253 games won, 48.1% games won percentage).
Slammers began to climb the team ranking when Andy Murray join the team in UAE leg. The 2013 Wimbledon Champion defeated Roger Federer in men’s singles (6-4). Overall, Slammers upset the home favorite by three points (27:24). The next day, Nick Kyrgios closed out the match (27:16) against Aces with a 6-1 confident win over Bernard Tomic.
Before the finale on December 20th, Slammers lost and won a match in home soil (23:27 vs Royals and 27:21 vs Aces). Slammers won 4 of 5 sets against Aces in the final match.
Expect the unexpected, as they say. Carlos Moya opened a 6-4 win over Fabrice Santoro. Belinda Bencic survived a scare from Svetlana Kuznetsova (6-5). Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza stayed invincible against Karolina Pliskova and Dustin Brown (6-2).
Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open Champion, saved his team and wasted no time to defeat Bernard Tomic (6-3). Wawrinka partnered with Marcelo Melo to keep the momentum swinging in their favor 6-3 against Bopanna and Ivan Dodig.
While Coca-Cola stays as its title sponsor, the Mall of Asia Arena remains to stage the show’s second season in December 6 (Sunday), 7 (Monday) and 8 (Tuesday). Filipino fans will get to see and meet more than 30 stars.
Bigger and Brighter IPTL 2015?
Yes. There are team reshuffles and new stars in line. Current World Number 1, Serena Williams (a former Slammer), will lead the newly-named Philippine Mavericks.
She’s joined by Richard Gasquest (2015 Wimbledon semi-finalist), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2008 Australian Open finalist), Sabine Lisicki (2013 Wimbledon finalist), Treat Huey (4-time Doubles Champion), Milos Raonic (2014 Wimbledon semifinalist), Jarmila Gajdosova (2013 Australian Open Mixed Doubles Champion) and Borna Coric (2013 Junior US Open Champion). Mark Philippoussis (Retired 2003 Wimbledon finalist) will return as the team captain.
Season 2 will feature five teams, instead of four. Maria Sharapova (a former Maverick) and Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open finalist) will lead Japan Warriors and will attempt to knockout Indian Aces, Singapore Slammers, UAE Royals and Philippine Mavericks in a five-set format.
Other warriors include Kurumi Nara (2014 Rio Open Champion), Leander Paes (2015 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles), Vasek Pospisil (2014 Wimbledon Doubles Champion), Lucas Pouille (ATP Rising Star), Daniela Hantuchova (a former Slammer) and Marat Safin (Retired 2005 Australian Open Champion).
Hold your breath. Nine-time French Open Champion, Rafael Nadal, will represent Indian Aces for his debut. He’s also confirmed to play in Manila – the second leg of the tournament.
Other confirmed players as published in local news sites are:
Ana Ivanovic (2008 French Open Champion),
Gael Monfils (2008 French Open semifinalist),
Daniela Hantuchova (2008 Australian Open semifinalist),
Tomas Berdych (2010 Wimbledon finalist),
Nick Kyrgios (2014 Wimbledon quarter-finalist),
Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open runner-up),
Agnieszka Radwanska (2012 Wimbledon finalist)
Better IPTL 2015?
Maybe yes. It’s hard to say things will be better unless you’re there in the moment, right?One thing is certain, however. The are no changes in match format. It stays the same.
Like in inaugural, there are two matches that will consist of five ties: men singles, women singles, mixed doubles, men doubles and legend singles. A point is added to a team scoreboard each time he, she or they win a game.
In 2014, Filipino fans saw four teams of six to seven members in three nights – same names and same faces. They competed against each other and even without Roger Federer, Indian Aces came on top unharmed.
In December, it gets better to see how will the new schedule divide the five teams. Does this mean one team will not participate in Night 1 but will play in Night 2? Will Philippine Mavericks play in three consecutive nights?
Ticket rates remain the same. General admission costs 3000 Php while the VIP clocks at 49000Php. Rest assured, these rates are still worth the time and money considering it’s a three-day pass. A match will also last for three hours. For more inquiries, go to IPTL World.
UPDATE: October 14
The IPTL organizers finally released the schedule for Japan, Philippines, India, UAE and Singapore legs. Philippine Mavericks will play three times in home soil.
The team will compete against the UAE Royals in Night 1, Japan Warriors in Night 2 and Indian Aces in Night 3.
It’s still hard to predict who will win in each set considering the list of confirmed players for Manila leg remains incomplete.
Perhaps, tennis fans will see a showdown between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic should the Serbian represents Royals in singles.
Richard Gasquet might represent the country for men’s singles and will play against Kei Nishikori in Night 2.
If Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will replace Gasquet in Day 3, the Frenchman will definitely play against the King of Clay and former World Number 1, Rafael Nadal.
UPDATE: November 29
IPTL confirmed the following players will play in Manila leg, which will start in December 6 and will conclude in December 8.
It’s hard to tell, considering Manila is simply the second leg of the tournament. The team who ranks number one in Kobe, Japan (December 2 to 4) might carry the momentum and will retain the rank after the Manila leg.
I expect Mavericks to win all the women’s singles in home soil, if the order of play will look like this (just guessing):
Day 1: Warriors vs. Slammers
Men’s Singles: Kohlschreiber vs. Kyrgios, W: Kyrgios
Women’s Singles: Hantuchova vs. Bencic, W: Hantuchova
Men’s Doubles: Kohlschreiber/Paes vs. Brown/Melo, W: Kohlschreiber/Paes
Mixed Doubles: Paes/Hantuchova vs. Brown/Pliskova, W: Paes/Hantuchova
Legend’s Singles: Safin vs. Moya, W: Safin
Day 1: Mavericks vs. Royals
Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Berdych, W: Berdych
Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Ivanovic, W: Williams
Men’s Doubles: Huey/Roger-Vasselin vs. Berdych/Nestor, W: Huey/Roger-Vasselin
Mixed Doubles: Gasquet/Tomljanovic vs. Nestor/Mladenovic, W: Nestor/Mladenovic
Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Ivanisevic, W: Philippoussis
Day 2: Aces vs. Royals
Men’s Singles: Nadal vs. Berdych, W: Berdych
Women’s Singles: Radwanska vs. Ivanovic, W: Ivanovic
Men’s Doubles: Bopanna/Monfils vs. Nestor/Berdych, W: Nestor/Berdych
Mixed Doubles: Mirza/Bopanna vs. Mladenovic/Nestor, W: Mladenovic/Nestor
Legend’s Singles: Santoro vs. Ivanisevic, W: Santoro
Day 2: Mavericks vs. Warriors
Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Kohlschreiber, W: Gasquet
Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Hantuchova, W: Williams
Men’s Doubles: Huey/Raonic vs. Paes/Kohlschreiber, W: Huey/Raonic
Mixed Doubles: Raonic/Gajdosova vs. Paes/Nara, W: Raonic/Gajdosova
Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Safin, W: Philippoussis
Day 3: Slammers vs. Royals
Men’s Singles: Kyrgios vs. Berdych, W: Berdych
Women’s Singles: Pliskova vs. Ivanovic, W: Ivanovic
Men’s Doubles: Melo/Kyrgios vs. Nestor/Berdych, W: Nestor/Berdych
Mixed Doubles: Bencic/Brown vs. Nestor/Mladenovic, W: Nestor/Mladenovic
Legend’s Singles: Moya vs. Ivanisevic, W: Ivanisevic
Day 3: Mavericks vs. Aces
Men’s Singles: Gasquet vs. Nadal, W: Nadal
Women’s Singles: Williams vs. Radwanska, W: Williams
Men’s Doubles: Huey/Roger-Vasselin vs. Bopanna/Monfils, W: Huey/Roger-Vasselin
Mixed Doubles: Gajdosova/Raonic vs Mirza/Bopanna, W: Mirza/Bopanna
Legend’s Singles: Philippoussis vs. Santoro, W: Santoro