IPTL: Delhi gets ready for Nadal-Federer clash

The marquee clash between a vintage Roger Federer and classy Rafael Nadal — the two great legends of the game — will be awaited keenly by the fans as the third leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

Rafael Nadal of the Indian Aces pumps his fist to celebrate a point against Philippine Mavericks' Milos Raonic.   -  AP

The Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry is one of the timeless sagas of international sports. The two tennis icons have not only enjoyed some enviable fan following from across the globe but also split their supporters to the extent of behaving radically.

As the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) bandwagon moves into the capital city for its third leg of matches in the second season, starting on Thursday, one tends to ask: Can it serve a mouth-watering clash between Federer and Nadal at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Saturday?

In its opening year, the IPTL had made a big impact when fans from all over the country had thronged Delhi to watch a match between Fedrer and Novak Djokovic and returned home satiated with the quality of the contest.

The avid followers will hope to be part of another surreal setting when the affable and graceful Swiss and the never-say-die and gritty Spaniard come face to face.

Federer, who was part of the defending champion Micromax Indian Aces side in the inaugural IPTL, returning to the city looks a possibility even though it will be known only when the organisers release the order of play.

The 34-year-old 17-time Grand Slam winner has switched his loyalty from Indian Aces to Obi UAE Royals. However, Federer, who parted ways with coach Stefan Edberg to hire Ivan Ljubicic on Wednesday, has not turned up for Royals yet.

As Aces plays before its home crowd here, 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal, who made his IPTL debut this season, will be keen to receive the fans’ support when he takes the court for the much-awaited clash.

Nadal joined Aces in Manila and contributed significantly for the team, which decimated Royals 30-18 before narrowly losing to the host Phillipine Mavericks 25-24.

Currently, Indian Aces is leading the table after winning three of its four matches. The team has benefited hugely from the French Open doubles champion Ivan Dodig’s consistent showing. The Croatian had helped Aces bag three sets in-a-row against Oue Singapore Slammers for a come-from-behind 27-22 win in Kobe, Japan.

Later, Dodig joined hands with Nadal to beat the Royals pair of Daniel Nestor and Thomas Berdych 6-3.

Indian stars Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna have also done their bit winning two mixed doubles matches for Aces. Bopanna teamed up with Dodig to clinch a men’s double encounter against Singapore.

The legendary Leander Paes, playing for Japan, will be of some attraction for the tennis lovers of the country. The presence of some leading players — including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Kei Nishkori, Marin Cilic and Goran Ivanisevic — will too add to the aura of the event.

The participation of Federer, who represents Obi UAE Royals this season, will be known only when the organisers release the order of play.