December 6, 2018
If you thought you could miss any of the action at Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, Thursday’s play proved otherwise.
Mark Philippoussis defeated Goran Ivanisevic 6-3, 3-6, 17-15 in a thriller, saving four match points in the Champions Tie-break.
“It was a fun game. Every time I play Goran I enjoy it,” Philippoussis said. “It was a tough one because with Goran, he hits the ball so big so it was hard to get rhythm out there. With the tie-break at the end, we both had so many opportunities and it was one of those [matches] where we both should have won it.”
As you’d expect in a clash between two of the biggest servers the sport has seen, there was only one break per side on the opening day of action in London. In fact, Ivanisevic faced just one break point. But Philippoussis saved five of the six break points he faced after one hour and 42 minutes.
“It was great to be back here for the first time in four or five years. [It’s a] great venue and great atmosphere,” Ivanisevic said. “It’s just so enjoyable to play Mark.”
Legends Cup champion Tommy Haas picked up right where he left off in Mallorca, earlier in the day. The former World No. 2 got off to a fast start by beating Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-5, 6-4.
The German has looked impressive since making his ATP Champions Tour debut in October, winning all four of his matches, losing just one set in those clashes.
“It’s always fun to go out there. Obviously a new venue for me, playing here for the first time, it’s spectacular to be on court,” Haas said. “It’s so nice of the fans to come and watch us play on a Thursday afternoon, so it’s always a pleasure and I’m very happy to be part of it.”
Haas and Malisse battled in long rallies in the opening set, with no advantages going to either man. Haas eventually broke Malisse late to take the opener, and he’d carry that momentum forward. Haas’ serving was particularly strong throughout, as he struck plenty of aces throughout the match. The 15-time ATP World Tour champion closed out the match on his second match point.
“Tommy played a great game and the last game on my serve, he hit some great shots,” Malisse said. “I feel pretty good, it was close… Such an amazing venue, I think it is my fifth year and every time you step on the court, it’s amazing.”
1:30 pm – Ferrero vs. Philippoussis
Bahrami/Enqvist vs. Haas/Pernfors
7:30 pm – Malisse vs. Rusedski