Indian Aces registered their third successive victory in the International Tennis Premier League (IPTL), defeating UAE Royals 28-20 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Sunday.
UAE coach John Laffnie de Jager won the toss and elected to receive, and in the first encounter Kristina Mladenovic beat Aces' Ana Ivanovic 6-4. Ivanovic gave a spirited display despite being down 1-5 at one point.
Experienced mixed doubles pair Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna notched a 6-3 win in the second set over Mladenovic and Nenad Zimonjic to equalise for the Aces.
Later, Bopanna partnered with Gael Monfils to victory over Zimonjic and Marin Cilic 6-4 in the men's doubles third set. This win gave the Aces a solid lead, which increased even further following Monfils' 6-3 win over Malek Jaziri, who replaced the injured Marin Cilic.
"I love this format. This suits me well," said the always-entertaining Monfils. "I love the team atmosphere. We had fun out there. Actually we're good friends -- Ana, Sania -- we grew up together.
"It's a good competition because we are having fun."
In the fifth and final set, Aces' player-coach Fabrice Santoro defeated Goran Ivanisevic 6-4 to win the past champions' tie.
"I will remember the hospitality and how many people love tennis here and are happy to see the best champions in the world and if you ask the crowd they will want to have this back again next year," Santoro said after the victory.
In the second match of the day, Manila Mavericks registered their first win, defeating Singapore Slammers 27-19.
Mavericks' player- coach Treat Huey won the toss and elected to serve and the match began with the past champions' singles match, which was won 6-2 by Mark Philippoussis against Patrick Rafter.
Philippoussis was drafted in as a substitute due to Carlos Moya's injury and proved that he was the right choice.
In the second set, Huey and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga edged the in-form Singapore doubles pair of Nick Kyrgios, who was substituted mid-set for Lleyton Hewitt, and Tomas Berdych, 6-5.
Up next, Singaporean mixed doubles pairing of Serena Williams and Lleyton Hewitt lost 6-1 against the home team combination of Andy Murray and Kirsten Flipkens.
Serena, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, returned for the singles match and won 6-3 against Flipkens.
"I love the team atmosphere," said Serena, making her first appearance in the IPTL. "If you lose a match everyone is still positive and that what I love about it.
"The reception of the crowd has been amazing. Just warming up and hearing the crowd was spectacular and unexpected. I feel honoured to feel that.
"I've never played and been here before. It's good to come to countries like this because you realise we have fans everywhere and we never get to come to places where some of the fans are and forget that you do have fans everywhere. It feels good to have that opportunity."
In the fifth set, Murray overcame a fighting Kyrgios 6-5 to ensure that his team would leave their home crowd with a victory.