Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal helped the Micromax Indian Aces sweep the OBI United Arab Emirates (UAE) Royals in five matches on Monday in the second day of the Manila leg of International Premier Tennis League 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The 29-year-old Spaniard sealed his team’s victory by overcoming a 0-3 deficit and beating Czech Tomas Berdych 6 (7)-5 (3) in the men’s singles fifth and last match. The victory earned the Micromax Indian Aces a lopsided 30-18 win over the UAE Royals.
Nadal struggled in the early going of the match against Berdych’s backhand attacks but was able to bounce back quickly to the joy of the crowd.
Nadal established a 5-4 lead before Berdych tied the count to 5-all using his superb forehand assaults. The first player to notch seven points in the shootout wins, which Nadal, known as King of Clay, accomplished.
“Here is something special, the crowd is real. I’m so happy to be here in the Philippines for the first time in my life. They are very friendly,” the 2008 Olympic gold medalist told reporters during the post-game interview.
“I don’t like to be that quick in my serves. I have to understand the sport like a thing that you need to think about. The matches are too quick and I’m having fun. The organizer did a fantastic job in this tournament,” Nadal said.
Nadal and Croatian Ivan Dodig teamed up in the men’s doubles fourth match to crush Daniel Nestor and Berdych 6-3.
Rohan Boppana and Sania Mirza of India earned the Aces their first victory by thumping Canadian Nestor and French Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, in the mixed doubles first match.
Australian Samantha Stosur, 31, capitalized on her strong serves and forehand plays in the women’s singles second set match to outplay UAE Royals’ Mladenovic, 6-3, earning the Micromax Indian Aces their second win in a row.
The Micromax Indian Aces also banked on the talent of retired French player Fabrice Santoro to establish a 3-0 lead. The 42-year-old Santoro relied on his strong backhand attacks to score a 6-3 win over Croatian Goran Ivanisevic in the men’s legends singles third set match play.
“I’m very proud to have Rafael [Nadal] here in my team,” Santoro, who also coaches the Aces, told reporters during the post-game interview. “He was only few minutes on the court, but he already adapted to the format that’s why he is a great champion.”
“He is just having fun and he understand the game quickly,” added Stosur.
“We just prepared really well for the best match because you cannot be sure to beat somebody like Berdych and Goran on the court,” added Santoro. “We just tried our best to win every set and it is a good evening to us.”
The Micromax Indian Aces posted an early 18-10 lead against the OBI UAE Royals after dominating the early three matches.
The Royals absorbed their back-to-back losses after losing to the Philippine Mavericks, 29-18, during the opener on Sunday. JOSEF T. RAMOS