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IPTL: Federer-Djokovic clash culminates India affair

Last updated on: December 09, 2014 07:59 IST

India's date with legends of the tennis world ended after the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic provided glimpses of their brilliance on Monday, the concluding day of the Delhi leg of the International Premier Tennis League.

Novak DjokovicManila Mavericks defeated Singapore Slammers 23-17 in the evening match while the Djokovic-led UAE Royals proved too hot for home team India Aces, winning 29-22.

The inaugural tournament now travels to Dubai for the fourth and final leg, from December 13. 

But the day, as it has been the case all through the show, was not about who won and lost. The frenzy was all about the magic greats of past and present weaved inside the makeshift tennis court laid out at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. 

The atmosphere was loud even as the venue was far from full, something witnessed on all three days. 

The mother of all clashes was the one between world number one Djokovic and Federer. The responsive crowd, though, had to wait right till end for the much-awaited match in the three-day leg. 

The earlier sets of the night tie had a lot to offer. 

The home team's Ana Ivanovic lost to Kristina Mladenovic 5-6 but that was rather welcomed by the crowd, making way for Sampras and Ivanisevic to renew their famous rivalry in the 'Past Champions' singles. 

The keenly-anticipated contest was cut short when Sampras was substituted by captain Fabrice Santoro as Ivanisevic led 4-1.

Sampras, who looked rusty in his opener on Sunday, was not at his best again, forcing him to also miss the men's doubles alongside Federer.

Ivanisevic won the set 6-3.

As all waited with bated breath for the Federer-Djokovic face-off, the two champions gave them a teaser by turning up for the doubles.

Federer was sporting enough to play both mixed doubles (with Sania) and men's doubles (with Gael Monfils). 

The penultimate set got Federer and Monfils really into the act. Up against Zimonjic and Djokovic, they jumped all over the court, celebrated each winner as if a lot was at stake.

With the match already in the bag for UAE Royals, the stage was set for the men's singles showdown.

Suddenly the fun part from their game vanished as Federer and Djokovic appeared as intense as they usually are on the professional tour. The chair umpire tried his bit to egg on the crowd further but that did not amuse Djokovic.

The winners came thick and fast from their rackets and at 3-3 there was hardly anything separating the two. It was much like their last six meetings on the Tour, with both sharing the spoils.

Both reached out for the ball as if they were not playing in Delhi, but battling out in New York in their bid to add another Major to their trophy showcase.

The Swiss great made it 5-4 with another solid hold. He fired four aces to Djokovic's none. The set had to go to the wire and it did. With the scores locked at 5-5, it was time for the five-minute shoot-out.

Djokovic came up with a breathtaking backhand cross-court winner on the way to take a 3-2 lead before missing an easy overhead for 3-3.

With two minutes left on the clock it was anyone's set.

Federer eventually won the shoot-out, thanks to one of the many rules the IPTL follows. The two played one final game which Djokovic sealed.

A warm handshake followed the pulsating affair and next came handshakes all over the court.

The end of the India leg could not have been any better.

Image: UAE Royals' player Novak Djokovic in action against Roger Federer of India Aces.

Photograph: PTI

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