ANDY Murray rounded off his International Tennis League involvement with a pair of wins yesterday to bring down the curtain on 2014 on an upbeat note.
In what is essentially an exhibition event, Murray had struggled to get his first win on the board for Manila Mavericks in the Philippines, but the Scot and Kirsten Flipkens beat Serena Williams and Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 in the mixed doubles and he followed that up with a 6-5 win over Australian Nick Kyrgios in the singles – a contest decided by a five-minute shootout.
Murray’s performance helped the Mavericks to a 27-19 win over Singapore Slammers. He will not be available for the remaining three legs of the event to be played in Singapore, New Delhi and Dubai, but before heading off to Miami to begin his annual off-season training he said he had thoroughly enjoyed taking part.
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Murray, who finished an up and down year following back surgery in a respectable sixth spot in the world rankings, said: “I think a lot of people were sceptical about this event, but there’s been unbelievable support from Friday through to Sunday.
“It shows the people here love tennis and it gives them the chance to come and watch some of the best players in the world and experience live tennis in a fun format. I hope we can come back next year and do it again.”
For Williams, who was making her much-awaited appearance at the franchise-based event, it was a disappointing day as the Slammers succumbed to a third straight defeat in the first leg.
“It wasn’t easy but I had a lot of fun,” the top-ranked Williams said. “I love the team atmosphere. If you lose a match, everyone is still positive and that’s what I love about it.”
Williams defeated Flipkens 6-3 in the singles before teaming up with Hewitt and losing heavily in the mixed doubles to Murray and Flipkens.
The team on a roll was the Indian Aces, which won all three matches despite the absence of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras in this leg.
Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic are other prominent past and present players who will feature in different legs of the tournament.
Each match in the entertaining IPTL format consists of five sets: men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles and legends’ singles.
The one-set matches can be decided by a four-minute shootout at 5-5 rather than the traditional tiebreaker – and Murray kept the crowd highly entertained in his shootout win over Kyrgios.
There are also “power points” which give players a chance to double up on a point in each match nominated before receiving serve. Other novelties include time-outs and doing away with advantage points.
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