Nadal, Williams bask in PH tennis love
For one final evening, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams basked in the warm embrace of appreciative Filipino tennis fans at Mall of Asia Arena.
Nadal and Williams, two of the biggest names in tennis today, drew the wildest and loudest cheers in the last day of the Manila leg of the International Premier Tennis League, never mind if their teams went different routes late Wednesday night.
Rarely playing doubles, Nadal steered Indian Aces partner Ivan Dodig to an adrenalin-charged 6-4 triumph over the Philippine Mavericks’ Edoard Roger Vasselin and Richard Gasquet.
There was plenty of net action and Nadal was on top of it, once ending a long, frenetic rally with a nifty no-look volley down the line that thrilled the fans no end.
“Yes, sometimes you try to finish the point and we had a few funny shots out there,” said Nadal, who drew shrieks even while simply changing shirts in the sidelines.
Williams played with Filipino Treat Huey in mixed doubles, trying to power the Mavericks with her usual show of force from the baseline.
The world No. 1 was all business, even as she and Huey lost to Sania Mirza and Rohann Bopanna, 6-3.
Nobody seemed to care about the results as the stars drew loud cheers for every piece of spectacular tennis action.
Mavericks captain Mark Philippoussis snared the first win of the match after a 6-4 beating of fellow skipper Fabrice Santoro in the legend’s set.
Earlier, Ana Ivanovic brushed off rising star Karolina Pliskova via shootout, 6-5 (7-5), as the United Arab Emirates Royals edged the Singapore Slammers, 26-23.
It was tough from start to finish as Ivanovic and Pliskova broke each other’s serves in the first four games and fired spectacular winners to please the gallery.
“She (Pliskova) was a tough opponent. The match could have gone either way,” said Ivanovic, the 6-foot beauty who was one of the crowd favorites here. “But the crowd was amazing. I’m happy to be back here. I enjoyed it here.”