The Obi UAE Royals' chances of reaching the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) final were dealt a significant blow when the Philippine Mavericks beat them 24-23 in Saturday's first match in Singapore.
With the Micromax Indian Aces and OUE Singapore Slammers favourites to play in Saturday's final, the third-placed Royals needed to improve their win-loss ratio to overtake the Singapore outfit in second place.
Following Saturday's result, however, the Royals would need the Aces to record a dominant victory in their final match so that the Slammers' win-loss ratio takes a significant hit.
In Saturday's opener at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the Philippine made a winning start to the tie when James Blake Goran Ivanisevic 6-4 in the legends match. They extended their lead when Jarmila Gadjodsova beat an injured Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 in the women's singles.
The Royals, though, bounced back in the mixed doubles when Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor teamed up to beat Gajdosova and Somdev Devvarman 6-1. Devvarman was a late replacement for Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
In the men's doubles, the Mavericks were back on track when Roger-Vasselin and Treat Huey beat Marin Cilic and Nestor 6-4.
Drama was to follow in the men's singles between former US Open winner Cilic and Ivo Karlovic. With the scores tied at 23-all, the tie was forced into a super shoot-out, where Karlovic hit an ace on the deciding point to win it for the Mavericks.
"It's unbelievable that we're able to do this. My team gave me a lot of energy to (win)," Karlovic said after the match.
The Slammers and the Aces square off in the final preliminary match.