It’s not easy to play Rafael Nadal in any format. Just ask Milos Raonic who, like most tennis players in the men’s circuit, has a losing record against the Spaniard, with six losses to just one win in seven meetings.
On Tuesday night, however, the last day of the Manila leg of the International Premiere Tennis League (IPTL), it was world no. 14 Raonic who got the better of Nadal in the final set of the Philippine Mavericks’ win over the Indian Aces, 25-24 in aggregate.
“I just played my game [and] stuck to the plan. With Rafa out there, I knew I had to keep the points short, not let him control the game, and that’s jut what I did.”
The Mavericks were neck-and-neck against the Aces down to the last game of the last set, which Raonic won via tiebreak, 6-5. While at first the crowd was behind “The King of Clay”, the tides turned mid-set as Raonic was able to showcase his booming serves and aggressive net play.
At the post-match presser, Nadal was all praise for Raonic and the crowd support. “I loved the energy out there today. I had my chances [and] it could have gone either ways, but it was a great match.”
“I missed him by two forehands at the end. But it was great fantastic energy out there and I enjoyed the crowd,” he added.
The Philippine Mavericks won all their singles match-ups against the Indian Aces, with team captain Mark Philippousis delivering some sharp sniping against “The Magician” Fabrice Santoro in the opening set. Philippousis won over Santoro, 6-4, while Serena Williams asserted her serve dominance despite a rough start against Sam Stosur in set 4, winning the set at 6-3.
Meanwhile, the Aces won in both men’s doubles and mixed doubles: Ivan Dodig and Nadal beat the Mavs’ Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-4, in the third set, and Aces Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna beat Williams and Treat Huey, 6-3, in set four.
Fitting for the last night in Manila, the Philippine Mavericks stay unbeaten at home.
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