Now, a tennis extravaganza IPL-style

Written by Anirudh Vohra | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 28 2014, 06:09am hrs
SaniaFor most tennis enthusiasts, it is nothing short of a dream come true.
How about seeing Roger Federer and Pete Sampras play together for the same team For most tennis enthusiasts, it is nothing short of a dream come true. Now, thats exactly what you can expect when the much talked-about International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the brainchild of Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, gets underway in November.

Federer and Sampras, who share 31 grand slam titles and are the highest and second-highest mens grand slam winners in tennis, are said to play for Indian Aces, a team owned by Micromax, in the IPTL. Save a few charity matches, tennis lovers have never had the opportunity of seeing them play together in a tournament. Gael Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Fabrice Santoro and local stars Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna are said to make up the rest of the formidable Indian squad.

As a tennis fan, I am excited to see Roger and Pete play for the same team, its unprecedented! I think Indian sports fans are in for a real treat, says Bhupathi, who has been working on the concept for the past two-and-a-half years.

The league, which plans to make international tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Lleyton Hewitt, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Carlos Moy, Goran Ivanievic, Andy Murray and Andre Agassi, apart from Federer and Sampras, household names in India, will be held across four cities Manila, Dubai, Delhi and Singapore. Spanish great Rafael Nadal, who had earlier agreed to play for the Indian franchise, had to withdraw due to health problems and has now been replaced by Swiss star Federer.

Speaking about his exit, Nadal had said, I am very disappointed to announce that I will not be part of the first edition of the IPTL. I was looking forward to representing Indian Aces and playing in front of fans in New Delhi in the exciting new league. I wish the team the very best and hope to be back next year.

Four teams consisting of up to ten players each will compete in 24, best-of-five round robin matches, which will take place across the four cities between November 28 and December 13.

Apart from Indian Aces, the other teams in fray are Singapore Slammers, co-owned by cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, Intex Group chairman Kishan Gehlot, Channel 2 chairman Ajay Sethi and Avvashya Group chairman Shashi Kiran Shetty; UAE Royals, co-owned by co-founder and CEO Sachin Gadoya, besides five of his friends; and Manila Mavericks, owned by Francis Lumen.

Bangkok was originally scheduled to host a team, but the team was moved to the Philippines amidst security concerns from the 2014 Thai coup d'tat and its aftermath. The Mumbai franchise was also pulled out of the championship stating the lack of clarity over the business model progress and disagreements over player contracts.

UFA Sports, the exclusive agency of the IPTL for the worldwide distribution of media rights, has negotiated an agreement with Sportklub concerning the broadcast of the IPTL in south-east Europe.

No announcement has yet been made regarding the telecast rights in India.