RETIRED tennis star Goran Ivanisevic turned back the hands of time by winning the men’s legend champion singles event of the Coca Cola IPTL team tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Friday night.
The victory of the 43-year-old Croatian opened up the campaign of his team United Arab Emirates (UAE) Royals with a 24-29 win over the Manila Mavericks.
Ivanisevic, the only player who won the men’s singles title in Wimbledon as a wildcard entry, delivered a resounding performance to beat Spain’s 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya of Manila Mavericks, 6-5.
“They wanted to win because they put me first in the first match. That was very simple,” Ivanisevic told reporters during the post-match interview that drew laughter in the media room. “It was a tough match but it’s all fun. Filipino fans are very amazing.”
Ivanisevic displayed his power and savvy against the Spaniard in the shootout to break their 5-5 tie. Moya, 38, did his best to reach the Croatian last second serve but couldn’t as time expired.
When a reporter asked Ivanisevic if there is a chance he will play pro tennis again, he said with smile: “No, everything hurts now. I’m okay now to concentrate in coaching and teaching tennis. I don’t have any plan of returning.”
Reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic also of UAE Royals followed up his countryman Ivanisevic victory by winning the men’s doubles and the men’s singles to extend the Royals’ lead against the Mavericks.
Cilic teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to outlast Filipino-American Treat Huey and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the doubles, 6-4. He also outsmarted Grand Slammer Andy Murray in the men’s singles by scoring a pulsating 6-5 win in the last match.
“The rules are new and we’re happy to make adjustments. Andy is really a good player that’s why I did my best in front of the Manila crowd,” said the 26-year-old Cilic. “We’re hoping to keep winning and so far we don’t have any problem with the rules and the venue.”
Manila Mavericks’ darling of the crowd Maria Sharapova did her best to win in front of Filipino fans by rallying past Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s singles, 6-5. Sharapova’s victory was the only win by the Mavericks in the five matches.
“I don’t like to disappoint my fans here in Manila. I didn’t want my first singles match to lose here. I’m so thankful to all your messages in my twitter and instagram accounts,” said the Russian Sharapova, who is the defending French Open women’s singles champion.
Sharapova also ties Martina Hingis with five Grand Slam titles in the open era.
But Sharapova’s team up with Andy Murray in the mixed doubles match wasn’t successful as they bowed to the Royals’ Nenad Zimonjic and Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4.
Murray and Sharapova are better known as singles player.
“We will have to make adjustment in the rules, I think. Sharapova is a great player. Playing alongside with her was really amazing,” said Murray.
Earlier in the first game, the Indian Aces led by Ana Ivanovic and Gael Monfils routed the Singapore Slammers, 26-16.