Manila, Philippines — If the home crowd had been a little subdued on Sunday for Day 1 of the International Premiere Tennis League (IPTL) in Manila, restraint was let loose upon the entrance of 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal Monday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
From the get-go, the Manila crowd hollered and cheered for the “King of Clay” and continued to do so as Nadal’s team, the Indian Aces, sweeped the UAE Royals in all 5 sets and registered a convincing 30-18 scoreline in aggregate.
For the first match-up of the night, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna outdueled Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor in Mixed Doubles, 6-4. The trend continued for the Aces as Samantha Stosur, playing for the first time in Manila, notched a set against Mladenovic in women’s singles at 6-3.
Likewise, legend Fabrice Santoro upended Goran Ivanisevic, 6-3.
As for Nadal, he played two sets for the Aces: Mixed Doubles with Ivan Dodig against the Royals’ Tomas Berdych and Daniel Nestor, and Men’s Singles againt familiar foe Tomas Berdych.
Nadal/Dodig won over Berdych/Nestor, 6-3, with competitive match-up that saw both sides diving on court to keep the ball in play. While in the last match of the night, Nadal had to come back from 0-3 to get a set over Berdych, 6-5.
In all, Nadal was all smiles on-court and off it. “It’s a pleasure to be in Manila for the first time,” he said at the post-match interview.
To the crowd, to whom he was gracious the whole time, it was obvious too.
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