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Philippine Mavericks upend Japan Warriors, reach .500 mark

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The Philippine Mavericks bounced back in their second outing after pulling through with a victory against hosts Japan Warriors to get their first win at the season 2 of the International Premier Tennis League, Friday evening at the Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Japan.

In a fitting way to mark the transition from the Japan Leg to the Manila Leg, the current hosts and next leg’s home side battled it out in Kobe. It was a rousing start by the Mavericks, as world number 1 Serena Williams and Philippines’ very own Treat Huey dominated Leander Paes and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-3, in the mixed doubles set. The Huey-Williams duo started like a house on fire after taking the first two games and did not look back. As if to underline the domination, Huey had a wonderful smash that landed inches from the sideline to get to within a game of winning the set at 5-3.

That set turned out to be the crucial one as the next three sets were tough. Ultimately, the Mavericks outlasted their opponents to put the match out of reach. Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin continued their impressive showing as the men’s doubles pairs for the Philippines with the first 6-5 win of the day. Gasquet and Roger-Vasselin pounced on the 10 unforced errors by Paes and Pierre-Hughes Herbert to pull in the tiebreak, 7-4.

Milos Raonic made it another thrilling 6-5 win in the men’s singles set against hometown hero and fellow top player Kei Nishikori, to push the lead for the Mavericks. The Canadian used his power serve to make it hard for the Japanese on the former’s service game. Raonic fired 8 aces and 13 winners to eventually take the set in the tiebreak, 7-3.

Team Captain Mark Philippoussis virtually sealed the win for the Philippines after a classic showdown in the men’s singles set over Marat Safin. Philippoussis also employed impeccable service to keep the Russian and former world number 1, Safin, at bay. The Australian pulled off with an overwhelming 7-1 score line in the tiebreak to bag the set.

However, the Warriors would not be swept, as their own heroine, Kurumi Nara, pulled off a stunning upset against Williams in the women’s singles set. To end Japan’s home leg in their maiden IPTL season, Nara overcame Williams, 6-4. The Japanese upstart registered an impressive 81% on first serves, winning 15 points off them, to bag a moral victory for the Warriors.

The stage is set for the Manila Leg of IPTL Season 2 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Here is the schedule of the Philippine Mavericks in their home leg (all matches are scheduled at 7:30 pm):


December 6Philippine Mavericks vs Obi UAE Royals
December 7 Philippine Mavericks vs Legendari Japan Warriors
December 8 Philippine Mavericks vs Micromax Indian Aces

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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