After going down to the Indian Aces in their first match of IPTL 2015, the Japan Warriors will want to taste their first ever victory in front of their own fans in Kobe when they host the UAE Royals on Thursday.
In a cliffhanger of a contest, the Warriors just could not garner enough points on the night as the Indian Aces picked up a 25-24 victory.
Maria Sharapova was unlucky to end up on the losing side, with the Russian wining both the matches that she played in, the mixed doubles and the singles. Sharapova clearly enjoys this format of tennis, and is looking forward to helping the Japan Warriors, who have the Indian legend Leander Paes in their team as well, to victory against the UAE Royals on Thursday.
"It's great to be playing at the IPTL. The team environment is a good one for us to feed off each other's strengths," Sharapova said. "Besides, we don't often get to see players like Marat [Safin] and Fabrice [Santoro], and for them to come out and play with the power that they did, is lovely.
"We had a lot of options on the bench today, which is great. I love Japan, its culture, the food, the discipline that people follow here.
"I've been to a lot of cities in Japan, but this was my first time in Kobe, and I'm enjoying it here. It's great that the IPTL can take tennis to newer places and bring fans closer to their stars."
The UAE Royals, who do not have their superstar Roger Federer playing in this leg of the tournament, were quite impressive in their first match, beating Singapore Slammers 26-20 in their first match. Another win and they will be on course to win this opening leg of IPTL 2015.
"This year, it's going to be more competitive," Goran Ivanisevic said. "So I made sure that I come prepared for IPTL. We are very happy that we have a new team in the IPTL this year, with Japan joining in.
"We are very happy to be here in Kobe. All the teammates have arrived and we played well [to beat Singapore]."
Teams: Japan Warriors: Kurumi Nara, Maria Sharapova, Kei Nishikori, Leander Paes, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marat Safin.
UAE Royals: Kristina Mladenovic, Ana Ivanovic, Daniel Nestor, Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer, Goran Ivanisevic.
Where to Watch Live
UAE Royals vs Japan Warriors is set to begin at 7.30 pm local time (4 pm IST, 10.30 am GMT, 5.30 am ET). Live coverage of the match in India will be on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports 4 HD, while all the action can also be watched via live streaming online on Starsports.com and Hotstar.
Viewers in the US will be able to watch the IPTL live on the Tennis Channel, while the action can also be live streamed on Tennis Channel online.
Audience in the UK can catch the IPTL live on Sky Sports, with the live stream option on Sky Go.
Sports5 will broadcast Philippine Mavericks vs Singapore Slammers live in the Philippines, while viewers in Singapore can watch the action on the SingTel network. Audience from SouthEast Asia can watch the action live on Fox Sports Asia.