Indian Aces began their home leg in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in thrilling fashion, edging out Manila Mavericks 26-25 after a super shootout in a tense contest at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Arena in New Delhi.
The win enabled the Aces to claim their top-of-the-table position with 24 points from seven matches while Mavericks remained at the third spot with 19 points after seven matches.
The tie opened with a closely-fought mixed doubles match, with Mavericks' Kirsten Flipkens-Daniel Nestor edging out Aces' home pair of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza 6-5 (6).
The Mavericks extended their slender lead in the next match, with Australian Mark Philippoussis clinching the past champions match 6-4 against Cedric Pioline.
The 45-year-old Pioline, despite being a lot slower and sharper than the big-bodied Philippoussis, fought evenly and was level at 4-4, but lost his service game at the most crucial juncture of the match to go down fighting.
The Indian Aces' men's doubles pair of Gael Monfils and Rohan Bopanna had their task cut out. They had to reduce the three-game deficit conceded in the first two matches.
And the French-Indian pair began in aggressive fashion. Roared on by a sizeable and vocal crowd, they engaged in an exciting battle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Treat Huey.
Fittingly, the match extended to a tie-break and even then it was too close to determine a winner.
Ultimately, the Aces held their nerves to emerge victorious 8-6 in the tie-break and reduce the games count margin to 15-17.
The stage was set for a thrilling fight between two charismatic Frenchman – Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -- both presently ranked within the top 20 of the ATP rankings.
The match lived up to its billing with both players chipping and charging to the net, displaying characteristic athleticism. Racquets flew, fists pumped and "come on" shouts uttered numerous times.
No favours were asked for or given as they traded blows at exhilarating pace and it was in the 10th game, with Tsonga leading 5-4 and 40-0 in Monfils' serve that prospect of one of them winning the match emerged.
The Aces took a timeout at this juncture to break Tsonga's momentum but it proved futile as he won 6-4 stretching Mavericks' lead to 23-19 going into the final match of the tie.
The Aces' hope lay on World No.5 Ana Ivanovic and she began in terrific fashion breaking Flipkens' first service game to race to a 2-0 lead.
That pumped up the Serbian to maintain the momentum. She led 4-2 and claimed the contest 6-2 to stretch the tie to a seven-minute super shootout as the scores were level at 25-25.
An authoritative Monfils set the early pace with a 4-2 and then 7-3 advantage and held onto the lead to win the super shootout 10-7 and secure the tie for Indian Aces 26-25.
In the earlier game, the UAE Royals, sans Novak Djokovic, eased past the Singapore Slammers.